Progressive Theo completes hat-trick

Galway Plate-winning jockey Jonathan Burke teamed up with larger-than-life character Mick Winters to secure a very popular success aboard TheosWell in the Attheraces Handicap Hurdle yesterday afternoon at Cork racecourse.

Progressive Theo completes hat-trick

Since being beaten at odds-on in a maiden at Tipperary back in May, the seven-year-old has really blossomed, and this success was the completion of a hat-trick, following a flat-race success at Ballinrobe, and victory in a maiden hurdle at this track last month.

On this occasion, Burke had his mount settled at the head of the chasing pack as four runners set a strong tempo from an early stage. The winner moved up stylishly before the turn for home, and quickened to lead approaching the third-last.

From that point Rock On Fruity was the only danger, but Burke looked confident as he rode out his mount to win by almost five lengths, with the remainder a considerable margin further back.

“I got a bigger roar here than I did on Wednesday,” joked jockey Jonathan Burke.

Winning trainer Winters added: “He likes a big, flat, galloping track. He’s a fella that can get in tight to a hurdle, and he can tip the top off the old-style hurdles.

“We’ll go for a novice hurdle again, somewhere, if we can, and he’s a horse that loves summer racing. To look at him you mightn’t think it, but he hops off the ground, and we hope he might win another one on the flat.”

Of Rebel Fitz, who was runner-up at Galway on Sunday, on what was his first run for 10 months, he added: “We might go the easy route with him. The Slan Abhaile at Listowel is the plan at the moment, but we’ll tread carefully for now.

“We might look a handicap, over a shorter trip, (at Cheltenham) in March.”

Davids Jewel appreciated the drop back to two miles when winning the opening Follow Us On Twitter Mares’ Maiden Hurdle in the hands of Sean Flanagan.

The six-year-old, trained by Harry Kelly, had been beaten favourite on her two previous outings, but deserved this change of luck.

At the head of the chasing pack as Hard Fought raced clear from an early stage, she was delivered to lead approaching the final flight, and stayed on well to pull away for a clear-cut success.

“She’s quite keen, but we knew there’d be loads of pace in the race,” said Kelly. “Even though she’s not quick, they go a better gallop over two miles, and it helps her settle. It worked out great, and she deserved it.”

Ballychorus justified favouritism with a straight-forward success in the three-mile Social Package Hurdle, under Adrian Heskin. The 5-4 chance tracked the pace-setting Kylecrue for two circuits, before moving to the front turning for home.

Gold Bullet and Cootamundra offered challenges in the straight, but the Mags Mullins-trained favourite pulled out extra to see off the latter.

Jockey Adam O’Neill (Beckwith Star) and trainer Garrett Power (Lilly The Lioness) were amongst the winners at the Galway Festival and they teamed up to take the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle with Late Night Deed.

The 12-1 chance was tucked in against the rails for much of the trip, and travelled well throughout. Misty Weather, who was returning after a long absence, hit the front, going well, shortly after turning in, and the two pulled clear.

Despite an awkward leap at the last, Late Night Deed proved the stronger as she got on top on the run-in. A change of focus is in line for the winner, explained the winning trainer: “She’s always had ability, but she’s been a nightmare to train. She’s in foal to Leading Light.”

Seldom does trainer Aidan O’Brien strike with 16-1 outsiders, but that was the case when Mentor caused a real upset in the Mallow Hospital Maiden Hurdle.

Returning after an absence, he was prominent throughout, and quickened to go clear approaching two out, to beat Catalaunian Fields, with disappointing favourite Roconga back in fourth.

Davy Russell was called in to deputise for David Casey aboard the heavily backed Damut in the Take A Selfie @ Cork Racecourse Handicap Hurdle, and proved more than able as he drove the Joe Dullea-trained 4-1 favourite to victory over Indian Rupee.

Said Dullea: “He got 7lbs for winning at Clonmel and two more for standing in his stable, but seven or eight winners came out of the Clonmel race, so I was hoping the handicapper was right. He’s a horse that doesn’t take much racing, so we’ll play it by ear now.”

There was an upset in the concluding Ticket Sales Online at Flat Race, as the Michael O’Hare-trained Brother Gold (14-1) ran on well to see off long-time leader Grangeclare Rosa by little more than two lengths.

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