The complexion of the race changed as early as the fourth fence, where the well-backed Perfect Promise (9-2 fav), immaculate over the first three, met the obstacle all wrong, and sent Adrian Heskin to the ground.
In exiting, he brought down Pass The Hat, while last year’s winner, Shanpallas, was very badly hampered, and Barry Geraghty’s gallant attempt to stay on board ended unsuccessfully.
Rogue Angel and Opening Batsman continued to force the pace, but Andrew Lynch, at the top to his game right now, had Sadler’s Risk well positioned throughout and he eased into contention turning for home.
There were three almost in line jumping the last, but Carriganog hit the fence hard and sent Niall Madden out of the saddle, leaving Sadler’s Risk and Spring Heeled to battle for the é60,000 winner’s prize.
Unproven over the three-mile trip and having just his fifth outing over the larger obstacles, Sadler’s Risk responded well to Lynch’s urgings to forge clear in the dying strides for a length-and-a-half victory.
Said winning trainer Henry de Bromhead: “That was deadly – and just his second run in a handicap. He made a couple of mistakes, which I thought would be costly, but Andrew got him going and he stayed on well.
“He can only improve. I think the key to him is keeping him fresh. We backed right off him after Galway. He only goes right-handed, so we pin-pointed this, trained him for it, and it’s come off.
“He’s got a lot of class, and is not a horse I want to do too much with. My gut feeling is that we might leave him off now, and bring him back next year.”
The apparent ‘good things’ obliged with the minimum of fuss in the first two races, starting with Tigris River in the Dunraven Arms Hotel Hurdle. Well backed at very short odds, the Aidan O’Brien-trained gelding (3-10 favourite) got a touch close to the first couple of hurdles, but jumped fluently down the back and, despite getting close at the last two, only had to be pushed out to beat Holy Water by five lengths.
Said owner JP McManus’ racing manager, Frank Berry: “That wasn’t the greatest of contests, but he did it well. His jumping improved as he went along.
“I don’t think he’s a winter horse, but he’ll have to dip his toe against the better novices. Depending on the weather he’ll probably run again in the next month so.”
After securing an all-the-way success on 1-7 favourite Long Dog in the two-mile-five novice hurdle, jockey Ruby Walsh reported: “I’ve always liked him, he’s a horse with a good future, but will face much stiffer tasks in future.
“We probably weren’t going fast enough, which didn’t help his jumping as the faster we went the better he got. You can only win the race that’s in front of you, but that’s probably the last soft touch he’ll get.”
Rock On Rosie was a significant absentee from the At The Races Mares’ Handicap Hurdle, but the well-backed Wate And Sea ran out an easy winner for trainer John Joe Walsh and jockey Adrian Heskin.
Said Doneraile handler Walsh: “I thought it may have been too soft, but Adrian kept her out on the better ground. She travelled and jumped well, has plenty of pace, and seems to have got stronger. That’s her fourth win, and if the ground is right, we might find another handicap for her.”
Lightly raced eight-year-old Run For Firth was brought with a well-timed run by Brian O’Connell to take the Anglo Handicap Hurdle. The Kieran Purcell-trained gelding produced a prodigious leap at the last to put him in complete control, and duly pulled clear of Tigroney.
Willie Mullins, earlier successful with Long Dog, was on the mark again with Devils Bride, in the Pricewaterhousecooper Rated Chase. Bryan Cooper gave him a confident ride, delivering his mount to lead at the second-last, before easing clear.
Said Cooper: “He’d fool ya. You’d think he was half flat-out, but when you set him alight he comes alive again. He’s been a great money spinner this summer, but won’t act on winter ground so I can’t imagine we’ll be seeing much more of him until maybe he’s brought back for the festivals in the spring.”
Cooper completed a double when the Gordon Elliott-trained Lord Scoundrel made a successful chasing debut in the finale. The well-supported 5-2 chance had just forged ahead when favourite Rock On Fruity fell at the second-last, and that left him to race home clear.
“If all days were like that it’d be great,” said Cooper. “We would have liked to go the other way around, as he can go left, but he jumped the fences great.
“He laboured a bit turning in, but I was only going through the motions, using Barry as a lead. He winged the second-last, is a nice chaser in the making, and one of many to look forward to.”