A wide-margin winner of a valuable handicap chase in Fairyhouse last time, the even-money favourite was allowed jump into the lead at the fourth defence by Davy Russell and, in command from that point, had the measure of Moscow Mannon when that rival took a fatal fall at the last obstacle, leaving Mallowney to beat Rathlin by 17 lengths.
“I was hoping he’d do that, but you never know,” declared delighted trainer Tim Doyle.
“Davy thinks he’s more relaxed and getting better with every run. And he seems to have the key to him.
“The horse loves it here in Naas — he’s won four from four here. This is his first Grade 2 win and, if we keep going forward we’ll be happy. Today is a great day.”
Mallowney will not be crossing the Irish Sea to contest next month’s Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, but he could meet the top two-milers at Punchestown.
Dropping significantly in trip, having won a couple of three-mile handicaps in Punchestown, and stepping into Grade 2 company, Oliver McKiernan’s Lean Araig captured the Paddy Power Shops Better Value Novice Hurdle by a length, after a protracted battle with Modem.
Robbie Colgan earned plenty of plaudits for his strenuous ride on the winner as his mount was off the bridle virtually throughout before outstaying his chief rival in the closing stages.
Colgan was banned for four days for using his whip excessive frequency.
Owner-trainer McKiernan said: “We knew he’s a good three-miler and I wasn’t sure about two miles today. He appeared to be doing nothing in front and really needs a lead and a bit of company. But it developed into a battle, and that suited him — he’s very tough. It’s not bad to do so much wrong in a race and still win.”
McKiernan confirmed that Lean Araig will now be prepared for the Festival meetings at Fairyhouse (where he’ll probably run in the valuable, three-mile novice handicap) and Punchestown.
The bumper attracted only two runners but provided a fascinating head-to-head between the two yards that have dominated the season’s bumper action.
Gordon Elliott took the honours as the Nina Carberry-ridden Tycoon Prince quickened past the Willie Mullins-trained 4/9 favourite Up For Review to score by three lengths.
“That’s our 20th bumper winner of the season and he’s a proper horse,” said Elliott.
“He’s a good horse and looks an exciting horse to go hurdling next season. And he’d definitely finished for the season. He’s a giant, but has a lot of speed for the size of him.”
Claimer Luke Dempsey, who rode a fine double in Fairyhouse on Saturday, rounded-off a memorable weekend when giving the Colm Murphy-trained Empire Of Dirt an enterprisingly ride to land the €50,000 Woodlands Park 100 Club Nas Na Riogh Novice Handicap Chase at the expense of fellow 9/2 co-favourite Champagne James.
Murphy, who trains the eight-year-old for Gigginstown House Stud, said: “He was very unfortunate when he fell in Thurles — he jumps so well and was probably travelling too well. He was threatening to win a nice one and, on this evidence, I’d say he’ll stay three miles plus. We’ll see what the handicapper does to him and where lads (Michael and Eddie O’Leary) want to go with him.”
In the other handicap chase, the three-mile Book Online At naasracecourse.com Handicap Chase, the Francis Flood-trained Miss Xian forged clear from the second last to beat Thelobstercatcher, readily, by 12 lengths.
Fran Flood said: “She was unlucky when she fell in Navan and deserved that. Her jumping held together, she travelled better and was able to hold her place.”
The market leaders dominated the opening two-mile maiden hurdle, with Arctic Skipper, usurped as favourite by A Hardy Nailer, earning the spoils by a half-length under Andrew Lynch.
The massively built six-year-old is trained by Vincent Halley, who said: “He improved from his run in Thurles, his first in nine months — he had a splint after his bumper. He’s just coming right and is very big. Chasing will be his game, but we’ll find a novice hurdle for him before he has his summer break.”
Runner-up in her last three starts, Misty Lady gained a deserved change of luck when landing the Best Odds In Your Paddy Power Shop Handicap Hurdle for Andrew Ring and trainer John Cullen, who commented: “It’s nice to win a nice pot with her. She had a light weight and got a great ride from Andrew. It’s a bit emotional, but it’s great to win with her.”