The versatile Gigginstown-owned gelding dictated the pace and jumped well and was being chased by the favourite when Robbie Colgan’s mount fluffed the second last, allowing the winner to stretch clear before holding his rivals’ renewed effort by a length and a half.
Swan admitted: “I was surprised when Bryan (Cooper) didn’t ride him (he rode the other Gigginstown runner Urticaire), because he was entitled to win on ratings. But, in a way, it was great that Brian could claim 5lb. off him. He gave him a lovely ride and the horse was pricking his ears coming up the straight,”
“He’s in the Paddy Power but will probably go back to Limerick for the Tim Duggan (Tim Duggan Handicap Chase), which he won last year,” explained the trainer.
“She had the form to do it,” declared Jessica Harrington after Keppols Queen, ridden by Robbie Power, powered up the hill to land the opening mares maiden hurdle in convincing style from longshot I’m All You Need and favourite A Hardy Nailer.
The six-year-old, runner-up to the classy Shaneshill at Fairyhouse last time, triumphed by six and a half lengths, to the delight of her trainer: “She has plenty of experience and has been running against the geldings. She has been unlucky a few times and we were thinking about going over fences with her. But I think she’s quite nice and it might be worth chasing some black type over hurdles first.”
Out of luck with A Hardy Nailer, Robert Tyner and Philip Enright combined to win the Club Stand Restaurant Handicap Chase with 11/8 favourite Leap Dearg, which jumped superbly on the way to a comfortable win over front-running Kilcarry Bridge.
“He’s an excellent jumper and made lengths at every fence,” said Tyner. “He’s very big and seems to be improving all the time. He was very weak last year and it was hard to keep condition on him, but he’s holding his weight a lot better this year. He won’t run too often and should stay two and a half miles. A bigger track would definitely suit him.”
Northern trainer Brian Hamilton enjoyed mixed luck with his two runners, seeing Wither Hills collared late by If Not For You in the beginners chase before Jimmy Two Times (Declan Lavery) proved best in the amateur riders’ maiden hurdle, beating racecourse debutants Venitien De Mai and Sambremont (favourite).
“He’s a dour stayer – all he does is gallop – and he was like a handicapper running against maidens,” said Hamilton after his success. “He did a serious piece of work last week, so we were pretty confident travelling down. He’ll probably go for a staying novice somewhere over Christmas.”
Earlier, Eddie Harty was non-committal about plans for If Not For Yoy following his victory under Mark Walsh, acknowledging: “It wasn’t the strongest race and there was plenty of carnage out there, but it’s nice to get him off the mark. He’s a nice, honest horse that always does his best for you.”
Unlucky on his last visit to Clonmel, when “fierce quiet in himself”, according to his trainer, Stay With It gained compensation when winning the Powerstown Handicap Hurdle for Mick Winters, 5lb. claimer Patrick Corbett and Mayo-born owner Tom McNulty who was recording his first win.
The 10/1 shot proved five lengths too strong for Shabra’s Bertolini in a race which saw the Charles Byrnes-trained 8/13 favourite Leave At Dawn make a series of serious mistakes and fail to get into contention.
“His owner saw Missunited win in Ballinrobe and asked me to buy another one like her,” stated Winters. “He’s a small horse, but he jumps a fence well. He’s entered for Mallow on Sunday and if he’s loose and sound, he might run again.”