A five-time winner on the flat last year, Moonmeister made a a successful hurdling debut in the opening V Is For Vintage Maiden Hurdle, wearing down front-running Rufino close home to score by a half-length, initiating a double for winning rider Luke Dempsey.
Elliott commented: “He has schooled well at home and got there in the end — I though the other horse had stolen it. We’ll mix and match it with him for the summer and I’d say he could go for the four-year-old winners hurdle on the first day of Galway.”
The Elliott double was completed when top-weight Fort Smith, which belatedly opened his account over obstacles on this track last time, won the J For Jaguar Handicap Chase under Jamie Codd, deputising for Bryan Cooper was stood down, with sore ribs, after a fall from Officer Cadet earlier.
“Jamie won a bumper on him so, when Bryan got hurt, I was keen he’d ride the horse,” said Elliott, after the Gigginstown-owned six-year-old beat Finea by five lengths.
Luke Dempsey completed his double when Val O’Brien’s Abarta stayed on late to win the Its Summer Time Handicap Chase, beating Royal Chief which was clear jumping the last before hanging left, almost colliding with the rail and losing momentum.
A Galway Plate trial is on the cards for the Alan Fleming-trained Bridgets Pet after his win under amateur John Fitzpatrick in the beginners chase.
Front running tactics paid off in both handicap hurdles as Mark Molloy’s Autumn Shades (Mark Walsh) captured the mares event and the Jimmy Finn-trained Ballyfinboy (Kevin Sexton) successfully reverted to hurdling in the Sunday In Summer Handicap Hurdle.
Patrick Mullins was another to adopt the make all approach when Listen Dear, trained by his father Willie for the Supreme Horse Racing Club, bolted up by no less than thirty-seven lengths in the bumper.
“She’s only small and has one speed, so I let her roll along.
“I didn’t realise I was so far in front coning up the hill,” said the winning rider.