The trainer’s late father Dessie had won the last three renewals of the race, with Lyreen Legend, Bright New Dawn and Giantofaman, respectively. And, this time, it was the turn of the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Sub Lieutenant to land the spoils for Osborne Lodge, outpointing odds-on favourite Milsean (also owned byGigginstown) by five and a half lengths, after the runner-up made a mistake at the final flight.
Sandra Hughes admitted: “I was disappointed with him in Leopardstown last day - that wasn’t him. I was very afraid of the ground today, because we always thought he was a good ground horse. But he’s tough as old boots. Barry gave him a super ride - he was tough on him, what he needs.”
And she confirmed: “This horse is entered for Cheltenham (in both the Supreme Novices and Neptune) and I wouldn't be afraid to bring him. But I’ll have to talk to Michael and Eddie (O'Leary). If he doesn’t travel, he’ll head for Fairyhouse.”
Trainer Robbie Hennessy stated: “Davy (Russell) said he was always confident, although I thought the trip might be a bit short and that he just outstayed them,” after 10-year-oldRubi Light captured the Thurles Racecourse Rated Chase at the expense of the flattering Arnaud, his first win more than two years.
Having made the running, Rubi Light was passed by He’ll be remembered and then Arnaud, but fought back on the run-in to score by three-quarters of a length, prompting Hennessy to add: “My father hasn't been too well lately and that will give him a boost. It’s great to be back in the winner’s enclosure with this horse - he’s had plenty of problems. He was bursting blood vessels last year and had a wind operation. He lives outside in a specially designed paddock, to help his breathing. And it has worked.
“He’s entered for Aintree and there’s only one Grand National. The boss has had a winner in Cheltenham but not Aintree. So he’ll probably go there.”
The Jimmy Mangan-trained Perfect Promise, ridden by Adrian Heskin, emerged best in an incident filled mares beginners chase, being left clear by the last fence fall of nearest pursuer The Conker Club to beat Carrigeen Kigelia by 21 lengths.
“She was running a blinder here the last day when she made a bad mistake and gave Patrick no chance of staying on board,” explained Mangan.
Samson Bill, which bumped into Cheltenham-bound Pylonthepressure on a previous visit to Thurles, coasted to a smooth eight lengths win in the Killinan Maiden Hurdle for trainer-rider Denis Hogan, who explained: “He looks like and travels like a stayer, but he didn’t get home the last day and has the gears for two miles okay.”
Captainofthefleet, which provided amateur rider Eoin O'Connell with his breakthrough success at Limerick's Christmas meeting, struck again, the 20-year-old rider defying top-weight in the Littleton Handicap Hurdle.
The eight-year-old, trained by the rider's father Eamonn, got the better of Tiger Bay Lady in the closing stages to triumph by a length and a quarter.
Lisa O’Neill, who enjoyed a welcome change of luck on board Knight's Parade in Dundalk last Friday, was on the mark again when Rebel Cry, trained by Norman Lee, proved a narrow winner of the Tipperary (Lady Riders) Handicap Hurdle.