The four-year-old, sent off 8/1 outsider of the five runners, was two lengths down and closing on front-running Jesmond Lodge when David Mullins’ mount crashed at the final flight, leaving Black Label to score by twenty lengths from Punch Bag. The winner was opening his account over hurdles at the sixth attempt and a delighted McGuinness admitted: “He’s a horse with a lot of ability, but he’s a bit of a monkey. He was disappointing in Galway and I haven’t been easy on him since then. When he was getting in here off such a light weight, and for such a good ‘pot’, we had to have a crack at it.
“He might creep into the bottom of the Lartigue (valuable four-year-old handicap hurdle) in Listowel. I won it with Victram in 2004 and it’s a race that might suit this little horse.”
Paul Townend and Willie Mullins, in double form in Downpatrick on Sunday, struck again when Ciandarragh, winner of a Kilbeggan bumper on her debut, captured the opening Breaffy House Resort Mares Maiden Hurdle in emphatic style.
Always close to the pace, the 5/2 joint-favourite eased to the front at the second last flight and scored, comfortably by four and a half lengths, prompting her rider to comment: “She’s not very big, but has a lovely attitude. She was good today and I kept it simple on her. She’s improving away and should win again.”
Mick Winters was on the mark again when well-backed 6/4 favourite Winter Breeze, in the hands of Niall ‘Slippers’ Madden, proved an emphatic winner of the Burleigh Accountancy Maiden Hurdle, slamming Itsonthelist by six and a half lengths.
Winters stated: “He’s a big, awkward bugger and is out of a half-sister to Earthmover, so he’ll be a chaser in the long term. Fair play to Niall Madden – he told me after Killarney that this horse needed to go the other way, with more dig in the ground.”
Fresh from his fourteenth Phoenix Stakes success with Air Force Blue on Sunday, Aidan O’Brien was on hand to saddle the J P McManus-owned All The Answers to win the bumper, holding the challenge of John Monash by a length A four-year-old Kayf Tara gelding, which made his debut in the novice hurdle won by Bachasson in Galway, All The Answers was giving Sarah O’Brien her first win as a 5lb. claimer.
Blackandamber Vic, trained in Gort, County Galway by Norman Lee, proved best in the Broderick’s Electrical Handicap Hurdle, foiling favourite Crystal Earth and the flattering Afatcat. “The step-up in trip helped her and Johnny gave her a serious ride,” said Lee, “She’s a pure honest little filly.”
A four-time winner on the flat in Germany and having his second run for Mervyn Torrens, Konig Hall (20/1) landed the Healy Mac’s At Breaffy Maiden Hurdle at the expense of 50/1 shot Castela Branco.