Up For Review, in the familiar Wylie colours, was in front after the third flight in the Fairyhouse Membership 2016 Maiden Hurdle and, jumping fluently, always looked in command, staying on strongly up the straight to beat favourite Space Cadet by eight lengths.
“That was a nice performance,” declared Willie Mullins. “He gallops and jumps and is already crying out for a fence. He’s an out and out stayer and looks one of our better staying novices. He’s by Presenting and should handle better ground, but he wasn’t looking for it out there.”
The Closutton double had been initiated when Open Eagle, winner of the November Handicap in Doncaster for David O’Meara last year, proved too strong for Double Island in the opening Christmas Parties At Fairyhouse Maiden Hurdle, scoring by two lengths.
“It was a good performance in very testing ground,”said Mullins. “He stays well, but was in front long enough and didn’t do a lot. I’d say he’d prefer better ground.”
The Mullins-trained debutant Merry Night was sent off 8/11 favourite in the bumper but, outpaced and short of room briefly early in the straight, the Presenting gelding proved no match for the Noel Meade-trained Showem Silver, owned and ridden by Nina Carberry.
The Winged Love gelding prevailed by four and a half lengths, prompting his trainer to say: “He’s out of a half-sister to Aran Concerto. And Nina bought him at the Derby Sale last year. He’s a nice horse and stays and jumps well. And I’d say he’s for sale. He’s only a four-year-old, so there should be plenty of improvement in him.”
The Today FM Ladies Handicap Chase, the first chase in Ireland restricted to lady riders, went to 25/1 shot Moonlone Lane, ridden by one of the two English riders in the field, Lorna Brooke, on only her second ride in this country.
Always close to the pace, the Paul Stafford-trained eight-year-old stayed on dourly to beat joint-favourites On The Shannon (Katie Walsh), who made a mistake at the final fence, and Rightville Boy (Lizzie Kelly), to the delight of the winning rider.
She said: “My flight was delayed and I thought I wouldn’t get here. But everything worked out well. He got into a good rhythm jumping and loved the very testing ground.”
Former hunter-chaser Court Frontier, trained for Barry Connell by Alan Fleming, took full advantage of his apparently lenient hurdle mark (100) when landing the Marie Keating Foundation Charity Race Day Handicap Hurdle in convincing style.
A first ride back after injury for 7lbs claimer John Fitzpatrick, the seven-year-old forged clear on the run-in to slam favourite Westerner Point by 22 lengths. Fleming stated: “It’s great for John, om his first ride back. We said we’d give this horse one crack over hurdles before he goes back chasing. And it worked out well.”
Locally-trained Balnagon Boy, third to the classy Sizing John at Punchestown last time, captured the rated novice chase for Tom Gibney and Mark Enright, wearing down gambled-on front-runner Indian Pace before the final fence before holding I’m All You Need by a length and three-quarters.
Gibney said: “He ran a blinder in Punchestown and the conditions were ideal, identical to the day he won his maiden hurdle here. He’s careful at his fences, but that’s his nature.”
Davy Fitzgerald admitted Mount Masada’s eight-length success under Jack Kennedy in the Fairyhouse Schooling Grounds Handicap Hurdle was “no surprise” following his good fourth to Perfect Woman in Cork last time.
He added: “He’s a good, tough little horse and should win another, if the handicapper isn’t too hard on him.”