Double makes it a perfect Christmas for Eddie Harty

Following Saturday’s victory with Coney Island, trainer Eddie Harty made it three wins from as many runners at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting when Minella Foru took the valuable Paddy Power Chase and Copy That landed a touch in the two-mile handicap hurdle on day two of the four-day festival, writes Tommy Lyons.

Double makes it a perfect Christmas for Eddie Harty

One of eight runners carrying the JP McManus silks, the well-backed Minella Foru was given a patient ride on his first try over three miles.

Barry Geraghty, carrying the first colours of the owner, crept into contention from two out and stayed on nicely to snatch victory from Ucello Conti.

Earlier in the day, Copy That justified heavy support when leading late to take the two-mile handicap hurdle under a typically accomplished ride from Jack Kennedy.

The 11-8 favourite looked in a little trouble before they turned for home, but responded well to pressure to lead on the run-in before pulling clear of Ancient Sands.

“Three runners, three winners — we’ll take that. We thought they all had a chance, so couldn’t be more delighted,” said Harty.

Of Minella Foru, he added: “I’m over the moon with that — we’ve been planning it for a while now, and it worked out well,” said Harty.

“The ground was slower than he wants, but he has a bit of class about him and we thought he was well-in.

“But, he handled it well, travelled well in the main, and Barry gave him a peach of a ride.

“He said he was going to leave it late — he left it a bit later than I would have liked, but the result was good.”

In just three outings on the Flat Ivanovich Gorbatov developed into a high-class sort but it took just one outing over hurdles, in the opening juvenile event, for the Aidan O’Brien-trained three-year-old to jump to the head of the market for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. There was plenty of talk about the Montjeu gelding but amongst his rivals was another well-touted sort, odds-on favourite Let’s Dance.

Newberry New ensured a strong pace in the conditions, but the market principals sat just a few lengths off the speed, and moved up ominously turning for home.

The two pulled away from that point but Ivanovich Gorbatov, who gave a brilliant display of jumping, was travelling best and responded to Barry Geraghty’s urgings to pull clear to the line.

Aidan O’Brien gave all the credit to son Joseph, who has responsibility for the National Hunt brigade.

Joseph said: “He was a nice horse on the Flat, and it was good to see him jump well. He was always a natural in his schooling.

“We weren’t sure about the ground, as he won a Flat handicap on nice ground here, but he seemed to handle it well. We’ll have to talk to Frank (Berry, racing manager) to see where he’ll go next.”

Asked whether or not Joseph would get his full training licence in the next 12 months, Aidan replied: “Hopefully. As soon as he can get it, he will.

“The last course was on in November, and he couldn’t do that because he was at the Breeders’ Cup, but he’ll do it when it’s next on.”

The winner is no bigger than 12-1 for the Triumph Hurdle, while the runner-up has been pushed out to 25-1.

Another who could be Cheltenham-bound is Supasundae, who took the maiden hurdle for trainer Henry De Bromhead and jockey Jonathan Burke.

After being slow into the first and making a mistake at the second, the Cheltenham Champion Bumper fourth warmed to his task.

Prominent throughout, he moved to the front two out, and found plenty to see off the challenge of Silver Concorde by a wide margin. “Delighted with that,” said De Bromhead.

“He was very green in Gowran (hurdling debut). When we brought him in after he had won a bumper, he had done very little jumping. He’s taking his time learning, but was better today, and I think he’ll be better again. He’s definitely got gears, and is a proper horse.

“He might come back here for the Deloitte Novices’ Hurdle, but I don’t think he needs too much racing. Ultimately, I’d like to go to the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.”

After the disappointment of Un De Sceaux’s fall, Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh gained some compensation when Long Dog extended his winning sequence to six in the Paddy Power Future Champions’ Novice Hurdle.

Always to the fore, he jumped well and saw off the challenge of Tombstone, who had been free for much of the race, and lost little in defeat.

“He was going as fast as he was able most of the way, and took a few chances, but I had to ask him for those chances to keep myself in the race,” said Walsh.

“He quickened up really well from the second-last to the last and was very tough from there.”

Added winning trainer Mullins: “Jumping experience was a huge help. We could come back for the Deloitte, but I could give him a break until Cheltenham. He’s had a busy season, but is learning and improving all the time.”

The biggest upset of the afternoon came in the bumper, in which the Tom Hogan-trained Winsome Bucks returned odds of 50-1 when winning under Declan Queally.

* The attendance was 17,431, up more than 400 on last year, while Tote business increased more than €300,000 to €770,259, and bookmakers’ turnover was marginally up, to €1,117,441.

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