Byrnes does the bookies few favours. But Arnaud, the 8/1 outsider of just three runners, ridden by David Mullins seized his opportunity after Bryan Cooper’s mount, the 8/13 favourite which had made the running, made a costly mistake at the final fence, allowing Arnaud to forge ahead and score by two and a half lengths.
“On ratings, he had a chance, but I didn’t think he’d beat the second horse,” admitted Byrnes.
“But he has always loved jumping and that was a big help tonight. We’ll keep him going through the summer. But there aren’t too many two-mile chases at this time of year and he might have a better chance if he goes back over hurdles.”
Gigginstown again provided a one-two in the beginners chase. And, once again, it was the outsider Easter Hunt (12/1), a clear leader for most of the journey, which prevailed under Shane Crimin after drama in the closing stages.
Gold Patrol had edged ahead on the home-turn but soon hung right, was awkward at the second last and unseated Sean Flanagan, leaving Officer Cadet in front. But he found little on the run-in as Crimin rallied the gallant Easter Hunt, trained by Mouse Morris, to earn the spoils.
Danny Mullins, who completed the first treble of his career at the last meeting in Wexford, doubled-up on favourites Fearachain in the Ferrycarraig Maiden Hurdle and Elis Gury in the Nick O’Donnell Memorial Handicap Hurdle.
Both are trained by Danny’s father Tony, who confirmed that Fearachain will take his chance in the valuable handicap hurdle on the Saturday of Galway while Elis Gury will campaign until the ground changes and will then face a wind operation.
Mick Winters saddled For Gortnatona, in the colours of veteran Killarney owner-breeder Donie Sheahan, to make all in the opening mares maiden hurdle, in the hands of Jonathan Burke.
Illtakeitfromhere scored for local trainer Paul Nolan in the Carrickbyrne Handicap Chase, although there was a sting-in-the-tail for winning rider Luke Dempsey, who was suspended for three days for anticipating the start.
Meanwhile, Shane Foley took the riding honours with a double on Lehbab, for his boss Michael Halford, and Pat Martin’s Easy Boy, in Bellewstown.
“He came forward nicely from his run in Ballinrobe and is a horse with a decent pedigree and a good attitude,” said Halford after Lehbab’s emphatic win in the one mile maiden.
Wexford man Dean Sinnott (23) had a night to remember as he triumphed on his first ride, Hisaabaat, for his boss Dermot Weld in the concluding amateur riders’ race, getting the better of odds-on favourite Rio Treasure.
Pincode, ridden for Patrick Prendergast by Ronan Whelan, made all to belatedly open his account in the Anglo Printers Maiden, denying Shane Foley, on Sikandar, a treble.
Apprentice Ian Queally continued his rich vein of form when scoring on Maudlin Magdalen, trained locally by Donal Kinsella, in the Hibernia Steel Products Handicap.