Karl Thornton’s charge, a four-time winner over fences since last autumn and rated 45lb.lower over hurdles, was sent off a 9/10 favourite and, ridden with supreme confidence, never looked in trouble.
He was clear over the last but, with Donogh Meyler sitting still, he allowed Troll D’Oudairies to close rapidly, with only a head separating them at the line, an outcome which prompted a Stewards Enquiry.
“He was entitled to do that, off his rating,” stated Thornton.
“But he’s probably a better chaser – he’s a slick, clever jumper.”
“We considered going to Cheltenham, but his rating is too high in England.
“We looked at the Daily Mirror Chase (yesterday’s feature), but he would have been 6lb. wrong. So it was grand to pick-up a handicap hurdle. He’ll go to Punchestown now, for the novice handicap chase.”
Conor Brassil, rider of the runner-up and successful earlier on Theo for Shane Donohoe, found himself in hot water with the Stewards and was suspended for four days when found guilty of “failing to take all reasonable measures to obtain the best possible place” on Troll D’Oudairies, trained by his father Martin.
In Wexford, Canaly, appreciating the drying ground, landed the featured Arctic Tack Stud Veterans Handicap Chase at the expense of Followmeuptocarlow.
The eleven-year-old was ridden for Sandra Hughes by Roger Loughran, a key member of her team at Osborne Lodge, who stated: “He’s had his share of leg trouble, but he’s a gutsy, honest sort. He wants decent ground and it still wasn’t ideal for him today.”
Earlier, Alterno, a son of Fastnet Rock, made a successful debut in the Wexford Racecourse Supporters Club Maiden Hurdle, in the colours of Mrs Jackie Bolger.
Trained by Dessie McDonogh, he proved too strong for Tagg’s Island, despite showing signs of inexperience and provided her rider Mikey Fogarty with a boost after his unfortunate experience in Cheltenham on Wednesday, when beaten a nose on Battleford in the Champion Bumper and then hit with a thirteen-day whip ban.
McDonogh said: “He’s a grand horse but was green over the last two, when he faced into the crowd. He was well-tutored when he came to me, and he should improve leaps and bounds after this experience.”
Head Turner, ridden for Pat Fahy by Alan Crowe, followed-up a recent win in Clonmel when proving an emphatic winner of the St.Patrick’s Day Novice Handicap Hurdle and, according to his rider, “deserves to have a crack at a handicap at one of the spring festivals, off a low weight.”.