O’Brien plans to continue to ride under both codes

Joseph O’Brien plans to continue riding under both codes after finishing down the field on his first ride over jumps at Limerick.

O’Brien plans to continue to ride under both codes

The 21-year-old has twice been crowned champion jockey on the level, but it emerged on Friday that he would miss the opening day of the Flat season at the Curragh and instead head south to ride over hurdles.

O’Brien, said by his father Aidan to be a “little heavy” for Flat duties, partnered the JP McManus-owned Egyptian Warrior in the Family Fun Day Rated Novice Hurdle and the 8-1 shot jumped fluently and travelled powerfully for a long way.

However, he had no more to give from the home turn and passed the post a well-beaten fifth as Rogue Trader (5-1) and Velocity Boy (7-1) crossed the line as one in a thrilling dead-heat finish.

O’Brien, speaking before dashing to the Curragh to partner some of the illustrious Ballydoyle string in now-traditional post-race gallops, revealed he enjoyed the experience, but has no intention of giving up the Flat game just yet.

He said: “It (riding over jumps) is different but I enjoyed it. He popped away although the ground was a bit slow for him. I’ll be in Dundalk again on Wednesday and after that I might ride over jumps whenever we have a few runners. I will be back riding again on the Flat.”

Val De Ferbet cruised to victory in the Hugh McMahon Memorial Chase for the formidable combination of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.

The 10-11 favourite was initially dropped out last of the five runners in the Grade Two feature, but it became clear after half a mile those up front were setting a sedate gallop and title-chasing jockey soon let his mount stride to the head of affairs.

The market leader gradually raised the tempo and it was obvious rounding the home turn he had far more to give that his toiling opponents.

Once given his head, Val De Ferbet quickly put daylight between himself and the rest and although he gave his supporters a heart-stopping moment by blundering at the final fence, he got away with it to seal an impressive 13-length success.

Rule The World was best of the rest in second.

Mullins said: “He is a very, very good jumper and has great scope. He doesn’t get too high over his fences but is quick getting from A to B.

“We can do any trip with him and he could easily go back to two and a half miles or even two miles. I’d prefer to keep him away from the hustle and bustle of the Festivals and ideally would prefer to find another race like this.”

The Tom Mullins-trained Charbel is bound for the Punchestown Festival after making it two from two with a routine success in the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Champion (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.

The four-year-old was an 8-15 favourite for this Listed event following a most impressive debut at Leopardstown’s Hennessy meeting in late February and despite running keen early on, he comfortably gave weight and a sound beating to his rivals in the hands of the trainer’s nephew, Patrick.

Tokenella ran a good race to fill the runner-up spot for the second time, but was not in the same league as the winner.

The trainer said: “I got a fright with a circuit to go but Patrick was very good to get him back on an even keel. If the race hasn’t left a mark, he’ll go to Punchestown , if not he’ll be left off.”

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