The Shark Hanlon-trained ten-year-old, second leg of a double for jockey Brian Hayes - riding the horse for the first time over fences, was left in front by Flemenstar’s mistake three fences from home and, despite tiring in the closing, stages had six and a half lengths to spare over Days Hotel at the line.
In a race in which leading fancies Special Tiara (a distant last of four finishers) and Twinlight (pulled up) proved hugely disappointing, Hidden Cycone delighted his trainer, who explained: “He’ll come on plenty for the run. I knew he was in good form,,but there’s plenty of improvement in him.
“The big thing with him this year is that he has learned to settle. Brian has had a lot to do with that – he’s done a lot of work with him at home. He won a bumper on the horse and hasn’t ridden him over fences until today. So I’m delighted for him.
“He got to the front a bit soon today. But they were all stopping around him and Flemenstar made a bad mistake at the third last. I’d say the loose horse helped him coming up the hill.”
A delighted Hayes, who had initiated his double on John Kiely’s Ancient Sands in the handicap hurdle, declared: “It’s magic, my best day in racing – to win a Grade 2, on this horse, is brilliant.”
Hanlon confirmed that the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown on December 6 is Hidden Cyclone’s immediate target.
Earlier, Ruby Walsh brought 4/6 favourite Arctic Fire with a storming late challenge to deny Monksland in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle, after the runner-up made a costly mistake at the final flight when he looked set for victory under Sean Flanagan.
But Arctic Fire, a Grade 1 performer with an official rating of 169, stayed on dourly to lead close home for a half-length win.
“He blew up, but he was gutsy and, hopefully, he’ll improve from the run to reach the level he achieved last season,” was Willie Mullins’ summing-up of his charge’s hard-earned victory. “I’m not sure where he’ll go next. I like him over two and a half miles and he’s in the Hatton’s Grace. But Nick (Peacock, of Wicklow Bloodstock) mentioned the Fighting Fifth to me. So we’ll have to discuss plans.”
The Henry de Bromhead-trained Three Stars (12/1) proved a shock winner of the At The Races For Auction Novice Hurdle (grade 3), in which odds-on favourite Tycoon Prince finished a disappointing third. Ridden by Jonathan Burke, Three Stars proved too strong for Thomas Hobson, prompting his trainer to explain: “We decided to hold on to him today and he’s won well. He’s obviously a nice horse. The plan was to give him a break after today. We might still do that, or we might just back off him for a couple of weeks and get him ready for Leopardstown at Christmas.”
A progressive and classy hurdler last season, Kitten Rock produced an exemplary display of jumping to make a successful chasing debut in the beginners event being shaken up by Barry Geraghty on the run-in to see off Sizing Titanium by a length and a quarter.
Edward O’Grady, who trains the five-year-old for J P McManus, admitted: “That’s a relief – he has done very little, because the ground hasn’t been soft enough. But, hopefully, this is the start of a very good campaign with him. He might come back here in four weeks, for a Grade 3 (the Klairon Davis Novice Chase on December 5).”