A rare bumper winner for trainer Jim Dreaper (his first since the 2006-2007 season), the Flemensfirth gelding is owned by Alan Potts and sent into the lead by Jamie Codd early in the straight he stayed on strongly to beat the Willie Mullins-trained favourite by two and three-quarter lengths.
Dreaper quipped: “He must be exceptional – I don’t have many bumper runners, not to mention winners. He’s mentally backward and doesn’t show a lot at home. He’s a grinder and stays going. We’ll wait until next season to send him hurdling.”
The Grey Guy gave Brian O’Keeffe his first training success under rules when outstaying Fiddlers Way by a half-length in the three-mile Comeragh Handicap Hurdle.
O’Keeffe; who is based in Doneraile, County Cork, has his licence little more than a year and was understandably chuffed after his charge’s half-length success under Paddy Mangan.
“This is amazing – I’ve had three point-to-point winners this year and now this – and I only have six horses.”
He added: “We bred this horse ourselves. He jumps and stays and is very genuine, so you can’t ask for much more. We’ll keep him hurdling for now and, if all goes well and he’s in one piece, he’ll go chasing next year.”
Jockey Luke Dempsey continued in superb form when partnering Heavenly Brook, owned and trained in County Armagh by Keith Watson, to a gutsy victory over He Rock’s in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase.
Eleven-year-old Heavenly Brook was recording his first win since April 2012 and gave Dempsey his fifth success in the last two weeks.
Westerner Point, trained by Eoghan O’Grady and ridden close to the pace by Philip Enright, justified 2/1 favouritism in the Lisronagh Maiden Hurdle, proving a length and a half too strong for Frankie Ballou. “He was back to his Thurles form,” said O’Grady.
“Two miles in soft ground in the right grade was exactly what he needed. We decided to make plenty of use of him. We’ll see what mark the handicapper gives him.”
Harry Kelly saddled Curragh Na Gold to land the Carrick-On-Suir Mares Handicap Hurdle under Sean Flanagan, the 3/1 favourite keeping Good As Gold at bay by a length and three-quarters.
“She’s been consistent but tricky and had a couple of good runs in maidensm” Kelly said. “But I always felt she was tailor-made for handicap – she jumps well and travels. And Seanie suits her. I’ll try to find another similar handicap for her.”
Andrew Lynch, on duty for Stuart Crawford in Ayr today, was on the mark when the Ian Ferguson-trained Leighinmohr, the 15/8 favourite, won the Slievenamon Beginners Chase by a massive 60 lengths from Dawerann.
Horse No Name (Mikey Fogarty) set a strong pace in a weak race, closely attended by Lynch’s mount, the pair stretching clear from the start.
Leighinmhor challenged from the home turn, held a narrow advantage and looked in command when the longtime leader took a crashing fall at the final fence, leaving the favourite to score, unchallenged.
“He’s a big, lazy horse that would prefer better ground,” said the winning rider. “You couldn’t fault him – he had the other horse cooked when he fell. And he’ll be a grand horse over further.”
Kilford made virtually all the running to outpoint favourite Perfect Woman by four and a half lengths in the opening Irish Stallion Farms Maiden Hurdle.
Trainer Lenny Whitmore said: “The staying track suited him today and the better ground, because he didn’t stay going the last day.
“He’s not getting any younger and we’ll keep him on the go.”