Slowmotion continues Joseph O’Brien’s tremendous start as a trainer

Four graded races supported the Irish National and Joseph O’Brien, despite not officially having his licence, continued the tremendous start to his training career by landing the opening Grade Two Juvenile Hurdle with the promising Slowmotion.
Slowmotion continues Joseph O’Brien’s tremendous start as a trainer

After the victory of Ivanovich Gorbatov in the Triumph Hurdle, the Piltown-based trainer had a good handle on the form of this season’s four-year-olds, and this filly, also carrying the colours of JP McManus, showed herself to be another potential star when winning in style.

Caught late on her only previous start in Ireland, she clearly benefitted from the outing. Ridden with utmost confidence this time by Barry Geraghty, she raced in a share of third place for much of the trip as Tocororo raced clear. The leader came back to the pack before the turn for home, and Slowmotion eased away up the straight to beat the well-backed Rashaan with plenty in hand.

Said O’Brien: “At Limerick the last day she was a little bit fresh as she hadn’t run for a while, and blew up at the back of the last. She came on a lot from that. She’s a very good jumper, handles an ease in the ground, should stay well, and is a very exciting filly.”

Asked of future targets, O’Brien said she wouldn’t run on the flat during the summer and may even have done enough for this season: “She doesn’t have to run again, but obviously Punchestown would be the target if she was to.”

Geraghty also carried the McManus colours to victory when Sutton Place took the Grade Two Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Novice Hurdle for Gordon Elliott. A fine chasing prospect, he travelled well but looked in a little trouble when he came under pressure before turning for home.

However, he picked up well to lead in the straight, before being joined by Royal Caviar. A bad mistake at the last handed the advantage to the last-named, but, under a hands and heels ride, Sutton Place battled back to win a shade cosily.

“To come back and win after that mistake at the last, he should make a good horse,” said Elliott. “He ran green, and that may be him for the season, but I’d imagine he’ll be fine horse with a summer’s grass. He’ll probably go straight over fences next season.”

Dan Skelton is another young handler destined to go a long way, and his Value At Risk gamely landed a gamble when taking the Grade Two Keeling’s Irish Strawberry Hurdle in the hands of the trainer’s brother, Harry.

The 11-4 second-favourite jumped well bar getting in close at one hurdle, but looked to have a battle on his hands when Marchese Marconi travelled well in behind as they turned for home. But the highly regarded leader stayed on strongly to win well.

“I’ve really struggled to get the horse right all season and won’t make that mistake next year,” said the winning trainer. “He might not be top, top class, maybe not Gold Cup class, but he’s not far off. I thought Barry had us covered, but our horse is very tough and picked up well.”

Another British raider, Emily Gray, earned her place in the winner’s enclosure when taking the Grade Three John & Chich Fowler Memorial Mares’ Chase for trainer Kim Bailey. The trainer and the intended rider, David Bass, were delayed on the flight from Britain and so Johnny Burke stepped up to the plate, and proved an able deputy.

Eased when the pace heated up down the back, Burke sent the mare to the front early in the straight, and she did plenty to see off Uranna. This was a last race for the eight-year-old, who will remain in Ireland to be covered.

Elsewhere, On The Shannon took the two-six handicap chase for Oliver McKiernan and jockey Barry Browne.

The Willie Mullins-trained Blow By Blow capped a fine day for Gigginstown when leading home a one-two for the owners in the bumper. Under Patrick Mullins, he took over in the straight and saw off the renewed effort of fellow exciting prospect Death Duty.

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