Game changer as Darwins Fox makes all

Henry de Bromhead’s Darwins Fox made virtually all of the running to land the J P McManus Rated Hurdle at Cork yesterday.

Down the field in the Galway Hurdle previously, he comprehensively reversed form with the horse that finished third in that contest - The Game Changer.

Andrew Lynch soon had the winner bowling along in front and the tactics worked a treat with The Game Changer, the well-backed favourite, in trouble a fair way from home.

The Game Changer did stay on to some effect in the straight, but things really have to fall right for him and he was never going to close down the leader.

Commented Lynch: “Henry said to make plenty use of him.

“I don’t know what happened in the Galway Hurdle, he was a bit far back.

“Today was the plan since Galway and I’m not sure what Henry has in mind. He wasn’t doing a whole lot over the last two hurdles, but was doing enough.”

Lean And Keen, trained in Athy, Co Kildare by Sean Byrne, made a winning debut over jumps when taking the Family Day Out Maiden Hurdle.

Theos Well looked all over a winner coming away from the third last, but Davy Russell gradually set the winner alight and, despite getting in tight to the last, Lean And Keen quickened past on the run in.

“We knew he was a natural jumper, he had done a nice but of schooling,” reported Byrne.

“He could go to Listowel, if the weather stays dry.”

Nineteen-year-old Ricky Doyle rode his first winner over flights when guiding the John Queally-trained Memories Of Milan to victory in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.

“I didn’t know the lad, he is with Martin Brassil, who recommended him to me,” reported Queally.

Doyle produced Memories Of Milan to lead after the second last and he stayed on to beat Illtakeitfromhere.

It was the first race Memories Of Milan had won since taking a maiden hurdle at Clonmel in April of 2011. Doyle has five wins on the flat to his credit.

Aidan O’Brien’s Plinth took the Online Ticket Sales Hurdle, after the complexion of the contest changed two out.

Favourite Flaxen Flare strode on before the fifth last, but was being strongly pressed by the winner when falling two out.

That left Plinth with a simple task to give Jody McGarvey a first success for O’Brien, on his first ride for the Ballydoyle maestro.

Davy Condon was aboard Flaxen Flare and was soon removed to Cork University Hospital.

Turf Club Medical Officer, Tom Purcell, reported that he was stable and able to move everything.

The fear, however, was that Condon may have suffered a thoracic fracture to his spine.

“That was badly needed, our luck has been very much out over the last few weeks,” exclaimed Harry Kelly, after his Padraig’s Joy had won the Mares’ Maiden Hurdle.

Partnered by Sean Flanagan, Padraig’s Joy was nicely in control for most of the long straight to beat Tikka Light.

Willie Mullins’ newcomer Valerian Bridge was always a short price for the Bumper, he went off at 1-2, but didn’t win like a so-called good thing.

Indeed, for the most of the last three furlongs or so, he appeared to be fighting a losing battle with Behana.

But Patrick Mullins’ strength was soon a major factor and Valerian Bridge rallied to get on top in the closing stages.

Said Patrick: “His dam was the first horse I ever rode on the racetrack. I thought he would win more easily, I was over confident early in the straight. I would be disappointed if he is not better than that.”

The modest Buy Online Handicap Hurdle was won in good style by Razia, who made most in the hands of David Casey, replacing the stricken Condon.

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