Gavin Cromwell and Kerry Lee off mark in top grade

Jer’s Girl and Kylemore Lough gave their respective trainers Gavin Cromwell and Kerry Lee a first Grade 1 success and provided Barry Geraghty with a big-race double in Fairyhouse yesterday.
Gavin Cromwell and Kerry Lee off mark in top grade

A first runner in Ireland for Kerry Lee, in her first season training, Kylemore Lough, owned in partnership by his breeder Mick McMahon (a London-based Clare man) and Achill Island native Denis Gallagher, completed a five-timer over fences when outpointing favourite Outlander in the featured Ryanair Gold Cup, a race champion trainer Willie Mullins has yet to win.

Outlander, attempting to bounce back from a fall in Cheltenham, raced prominently throughout, but couldn’t cope with the winner on the run-in to triumph by a length.

“Barry’s expertise paid off,” declared a delighted Kerry Lee. “Jamie recommended him and he proved a good super-sub.

“It’s unfortunate for Jamie (recovering from a broken collarbone), because he has done all the work with this horse at home. This is my first Grade 1 winner, with my first runner in Ireland. I’ll be back!

“This fellow will probably come back for the ‘Colliers’ (Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase) in Punchestown. We’ve had twenty-two winners this season and, quite honestly, we could be looking at anything with this horse next season. He’s a class-horse and is not ground dependent.

“Barry says he’ll be as good if not better, on better ground. I didn’t run him in Cheltenham because I felt the ground was too quick. But I’d be happy going anywhere on safe ground.”

It was also a day to savour for Gavin Cromwell, who is based outside Navan and saddled his first Grade 1 winner when Jer’s Girl, purchased recently by J P McManus and carrying his colours for the first time, ran out an impressive winner of the Irish Stallion Farms Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final.

Tackling two and a half miles for the first time, the four-year-old Jeremy filly asserted at the second last flight before powering clear to slam British raider Jessber’s Dream by thirteen lengths, prompting Cromwell to enthuse: “That’s was brilliant. I’m in absolute shock.”

He added: “I wasn’t worried about the longer trip on that ground. All her form was solid and she did it well.

“Fair play to her former owners – they decided against going to Cheltenham because of the faster ground. My only concern today was that she was a juvenile taking on older mares for the first time.”

“I must talk to her new owner and Frank (Berry) about plans, but I’d say if she’s okay, she’ll go to Punchestown (for the Grade 1 AES Champion 4-Y-0 Hurdle).”

Like her late father Dessie, Sandra Hughes has enjoyed tremendous success at Fairyhouse, in her short training career, and struck again Acapella Bourgeois won the Grade 2 Agnelli Motor Park Novice Hurdle under Jonathan Burke (his first winner since January).

The six-year-old dictated the pace, was headed early on the run-in by Nambour (which he beat last time in Thurles), but battled back to prevail by a head.

The winning trainer stated: “He’s a fantastic horse. He does it the hard way and was very tough today. He has a huge stride and the further he goes the better he is. Everything went according to plan and Johnny was able to give him a breather when he needed it. Thurles was a bit tight for him the last day and this track suited him much better.”

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