The Gordon Elliott-trained ten-year-old, in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud, dictated the pace under Bryan Cooper and, constantly pressed by Yes Tom throughout the last mile, kept jumping soundly and producing more, eventually scoring by three and three-quarter lengths.
This was the gelding’s sixteen success and his admiring trainer stated: “He’s a great horse, one of my favourites, a real star. He’s won sixteen races and really enjoys it. Bryan said he was idling, but felt he was always in control.
“He’s in the Aintree and Irish Grand Nationals, and the ‘Imperial Call’ in Cork, but I’m not sure where he’ll go. A lot will depend on the weather – if there’s no rain, he won’t run.”
Tony Martin, like Elliott. enjoyed success at both the northern venue and Wexford, Martin saddling Delvin Road, backed from 6/1 to 100/30, to record an smooth success in the opening Daily Mirror Maiden Hurdle, a second winner for rider Donagh Meyler.
Martin earmarked the Fairyhouse Easter Festival as Delvin Road’s next port of call and commented: “He’s been a bit unlucky, but got a nice bit of ground today.”
Trainer Peter Fahy stated: “He’s getting his act together and probably needs that sort of trip,” after Railway Tommy held the persistent challenge of Portrait King in the Weatherbys Printing Handicap Hurdle, adding: “He’ll jump fences next season.”
Mistakes at two of the last three fences proved costly for favourite Zigger Zagger in the Pat O’Hare Bookmakers Beginners Chasse, Paul Carberry’s mount giving best to the Jessica-trained mare Annie Oakley, a welcome winner for Mark Bolger.
A fillies bumper at the Punchestown festival is the target for Danielle’s Journey following her win in the finale for the Crawford brothers Stuart and Stephen.
Niall Kelly registered his first win as a professional when partnering Karl Thornton’s Colms Dream to a hard-earned win in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.
Paul O’Neill was suspended for four race-days, for using his whip with excessive force and frequency, on the Pat Cloke-trained Flynsini, which beat favourite Mtada Supreme in the Daily Mirror Hunters Chase.
Meanwhile Monbeg Dude is being checked over to see if all is well after he disappointed connections at Cheltenham last week.
Trainer Michael Scudamore is hoping it was just Monbeg Dude’s aversion to a tongue strap that caused him to run below expectations in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase won by The Druids Nephew.
Should the 10-year-old be given the all-clear, he will then be prepared for another crack at the Crabbie’s Grand National in which he was seventh last April.
Monbeg Dude, part-owned by former England rugby union captain Mike Tindall, had performed with credit in his previous races this season including fourth in both the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Welsh National.
“We were very disappointed with his run at Cheltenham. We’re just not sure. We’re doing a few tests to see what comes back,” said Scudamore.
“One idea is maybe he didn’t like having the tongue strap on, but he has come back bright and happy in himself. For whatever reason he just did not perform on the day.It’s back to the drawing board a little with him, but other than that he seems quite happy.
“The National is still the option as long as he’s OK. Up until Cheltenham he’d been ultra consistent and running really well which is why Cheltenham came as big a disappointment as it was.
“We didn’t expect him to win going there, but we did think he would run his race. Sadly, he didn’t appear to do so at all.
“Hopefully he just didn’t like having the tongue strap on and fought against that. We are just running a few tests to make sure he’s OK and will make decisions from there. If he’s OK we’ll go for the National. He’s come back bright and happy so hopefully there won’t be any problems. We’re just going to wait and see.”