Torrential rain turned ground conditions to soft as the afternoon progressed. But the J P McManus-owned Waxies Dargle, unplaced at both Cheltenham and Punchestown in his most recent outings, relished conditions, travelling smoothly throughout before beating Mrs MacVeale and last year’s winner Pivot Bridge readily.
“He loves the soft and won’t run on summer ground,” stated winning trainer Meade, who added: “He was electric in a schooling hurdle in Punchestown before he went to Cheltenham, but ran badly there – I still don’t know why. He only ran okay in Punchestown, when the ground was probably too quick for him. But I’m delighted to win a good pot with him. He doesn’t have the scope to jump fences, so I suppose he’ll stay hurdling.”
The McManus colours were back in the winner’s enclosure after 12/1 shot Baby Whizz, trained by Tom Mullins, landed the La Na gClub Handicap Chase under Niall ‘Slippers’ Madden, deputising for Mark Walsh, shaken after a fall from Henry Higgins in the feature.
Odds-on backers had no worries in the opening maiden hurdle as French import Karalee, trained by Willie Mullins for the Ricci’s, romped to an impressive seven and a half lengths win over Sophie’s World. Ruby Walsh, who partnered the 1/2 shot, stated: “She’s above average and is a novice with a big future. I don’t know where she’ll go – she needs soft ground.”
Kates Benefit, covered by Milan last Monday, proved a shock winner of the Jeremy O’Neill Memorial Mares Hurdle, making all under Davy Russell to deny the Mullins/Walsh combination a double. The 25/1 shot is trained by Ken Budds for Yawl Bay Seafoods Ltd.
Russell completed a double when giving Letter Of Credit a well-judged and patient ride to foil favourite Baily Green in the Leane’s Tool Hire & Lawnmowers Chase.
Just four went to post after the late withdrawal of Nicky Henderson’s Finian’s Rainbow. Russell bided his time at the back of the field before coming through for a convincing win, to the delight of trainer Jimmy Mangan: “It’s great. The soft ground is the key to him and he was entitled to run well after finishing beside Roi Du Mee (behind On His Own) in Cork. Small fields suit him and the ground will decide where he goes.”
Out of luck with Sophie’s World in the opener, Barry Connell, Alan Fleming and Adrian Heskin struck with Bishopslough in the beginners chase, the seven-year-old powering home seventeen lengths clear of favourite Lord Adare. The winner is likely to contest a valuable handicap hurdle in Ballinrobe in two weeks.
Tom Cooper enthused: “She’s a good mare and it’s nice to have a good one again,” after Louise Royale (Jonathan Burke) ran out a convincing winner of the Killarney Towers Hotel Maiden Hurdle, adding: “She had chips taken off her knees during the winter and it has turned her inside out.”
Sam Curling will consider running Ballinderry Moth in a flat maiden following her emphatic bumper success under Roger Quinlan.