Murphy acknowledged: “This game is a lonely place when you’re not having winners,” after watching the 8/11 favourite make all under Bryan Cooper (having his third winner since returning from a thumb injury) for an effortless win.
The Gigginstown-owned six-year-old coasted home eighteen lengths clear of Diva Dawn and Murphy admitted: “With a rating of 118, he was entitled to do that. I was just hoping the race would go to script. Ill have to see what the lads want to do next. But he’ll be going chasing sooner or later. Fences and three miles plus are what he wants.”
Earlier, Gigginstown and Cooper were expected to triumph with another odds-on favourite - Fill Your Hands in the It Pays To Bet With The Tote Maiden Hurdle.
But the 4/5 shot failed to get to grips with Rocky Court, trained by locally-born (in Stamullen) but County Galway-based Steve Mahon and another winner for in-form Paul Townend.
Favourite-backers enjoyed better luck in the opening Goodeenuf2eat Event Catering Mares Hurdle, but only after 2/5 shot Whiteout had to battle to get the better of front-running Miss Dinamic.
The winner was ridden for Willie Mullins by Ruby Walsh, who commented: “She jumped brilliant and appreciated the nice ground. But it turned into a bit of a sprint – Paul (Carberry) dictated it and quickened up turning in. But she did it well – she’s improving and definitely going the right way.”
Local trainer Andy Lynch admitted almost withdrawing Jarob due to a fear of soft ground after his charge, ridden by Shane Shortall, captured the Mullacurry Cup at the expense of Face Value, which slipped into a clear lead after half-way and was only collared by the winner at the last.
“This was his first run for three months,” stated Lynch. “He hasn’t been taking on his fences, which is strange, because he’s a very good jumper and he’ll probably go back over fences now –I think we’ll go to Listowel with him.”
Another local handler on the mark was Gery Keane, who saddled Effernock Lad (Mark Flanagan) to beat top-weight Beautiful Ben in the Lougher Stables Handicap Hurdle while Tradewinds, strongly ridden by Johnny Barry, won the amateur riders’ handicap hurdle for Michael Hourigan.
Off the track for eighteen months, Volvalien, representing Barry Connell and Alan Fleming, and ridden by Katie Walsh, was sent off odds-on for the bumper, but was turned over by It’safreebee, trained by Mark Fahey and ridden by his sister Niamh.