On ground described as “yielding to soft” after three races, but in warm sunshine, the J P McManus-owned Rae’s Creek followed-up his flat maiden win in effortless style in the opening Paddy Smyth Memorial Maiden Hurdle.
Having travelled well on the heels of the leaders, jumping well, Rae’s Creek was sent to the front after the second last flight and, soon clear, he stayed on strongly to win easily by nine and a half lengths from 20/1 shot Urtheoneiwant.
“He did everything right,” declared winning trainer Jessica Harrington. “He settled and relaxed and jumped super. Mark said the only time he took a hold was going to the start. He obviously likes it here and it’s great to get this out of the way. The ground is perfect for him and I’m not sure where he’ll go — he could go to Galway (on Monday), but I’ll have to talk to Frank (Berry) about plans.”
Owner J P McManus and jockey Mark Walsh completed a double when Whatever It Takes, trained by Niall ‘Boots’ Madden, held the effort of favourite I C Gold in the McGrath Limestone Works Ltd. Handicap Hurdle by almost three lengths.
“He ran a cracker at Limerick and came on for it, but I was afraid of the ground — he loves fast ground,” said Madden.
Earlier, Alton Bay, a comfortable winner of his bumper over course and distance last month, bolted-up in the Mayo News Maiden Hurdle, sweeping past front-running favourite Little Rocky between the last two flights before easing clear to triumph by fourteen lengths.
The six-year-old, another winner for 5lb. claimer Johnny Burke, is trained by Peter Fahey, who explained: “That was a good performance. They went a real good gallop, which played into his hands. He has a high cruising speed and loads of pace. He definitely won’t go to Galway. We’ll wait and see what the handicapper thinks of him. He’s a real fun horse.”
Trainer Tom Mullins, currently on holiday, missed seeing the Paul Townend-ridden Grand Partner follow-up his Cork maiden success by proving too strong for three other previous winners in the Monroes Live Hurdle, surviving a mistake at the last to beat War Of The Pennys by over four lengths with Riverside City, one of three beaten favourites on the night for Gordon Elliott, third.
Patrick Mullins, representing his uncle, commented: “Tom is on holiday in Waterford and asked me to look after things. Paul said this horse would be much better going left-handed, that he was hanging out all the way tonight, and that he’d appreciate better ground. He’s a fine big horse, built to be a chaser”
Paul Townend completed a double when Curragh Golan, trained by Garrett Power, defied top-weight in the McWilliam Park Hotel Handicap Hurdle, beating Supreme Vuc by a neck and prompting Power to explain: “Paul rode him in Clonmel and said he didn’t come down the hill and that he’d win here.”
Patrick Mullins was back in the winner’s enclosure after Run Fly Run, trained by his father Willie, justified 8/15 favouritism in the bumper, and explained: “She’s a slow learner, but has improved with each run. Today was the first time she travelled well in a race and, hopefully, she’ll improve again. She won with a little bit in hand.”
Shock of the day came in the Connacht Rugby Handicap Hurdle (the squad was present after an open training session at Ballinrobe RFC) when 20/1 shot Wate And See, ridden for John Joe Walsh by Adrian Heskin, held the late challenge of Swantykay by a half-length.
Walsh said: “She’s had a lot of difficulties and, for some reason, won’t jump ordinary hurdles. But she jumps the Easyfix well and it’s great to win with her. We’ll look for something similar for her.”
nJockey Andrew Ring was suspended for two days for “failing to comply with the starter’s instructions when riding Man Of Erin in the Mayo News Maiden Hurdle.