In the absence of Buyer Beware and Gone Platinum, the Enda Bolger-trained Lofgren was sent off the 4-6 favourite to land the McCarthy Insurance Group Rated Novice Hurdle, and the odds-on shot did so with little fuss.
Heskin jumped him off in front and when his two rivals challenged on the long run for home, he found plenty to follow up his recent success at Downpatrick.
Said Bolger: “We were waiting for a bit of better ground. We’ll probably keep him going now, though Killarney will probably be a bit soon. We’ll find something for him, and he’ll make a chaser in time.”
Heskin’s brace was complete when 16-1 chance State Of Origin battled to a game first success inside the rails in the three-mile handicap hurdle.
“The better ground and step up in trip helped,” said winning trainer Eddie Harty, after his charge proved half a length too good for Vinnies Time. “I thought he would go close on his second-last run, at Clonmel, but it didn’t work out. I was pleased with him over fences at Fairyhouse the last day, and he’ll probably go back over fences.”
An early breakaway group dominated the opening mares’ maiden hurdle, and it was the easy-to-back Cotton Jenny (14-1), trained in Wexford by Brian Jordan and ridden by Benny Walsh, who raced home clear of Petuna and long-time leader Miss Benefitz.
There was an unfortunate climax to the two-mile maiden hurdle, won by the Charles Byrnes-trained Making Shapes. The winner and heavily backed favourite B Cosmos were always to the fore, and still had it between them racing to the final flight.
The market leader, bidding to give Andrew McNamara his first winner as a trainer, was marginally in front but took a crashing fall at the obstacle, and that proved fatal. That left 10-1 chance Making Shapes to saunter home clear of the remainder.
“He was probably a lucky winner,” said Byrnes. “We thought he’d run well at Tipperary the last day, but he never jumped. He seemed to enjoy being up there today, and I’d say the ground made a difference. It’s lovely ground out there, but I’d say he wouldn’t want it any firmer..”
Seeyouallincoppers (9-2 to 2-1f) gained an overdue return to the winner’s enclosure when justifying strong support in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle. Ridden by Jack Kennedy for Gordon Elliott, he was held up early, made stylish progress down the back, and responded well to pressure in the straight to see off rank outsider Il Fenomeno by almost four lengths. Assistant trainer Ollie Murphy said: “He got into a bit of trouble at Punchestown the last day, and I’d say two and a half miles on this ground is his trip. He’s a fun horse for his owners – 17 members of An Garda Siochana. He jumps well and I don’t see why he won’t win another over hurdles before he goes over fences.”
Ah Littleluck was a popular winner in the three-mile maiden hurdle. Ridden by 7lb claimer Mark Flanagan for trainer Thomas Gibney, he was well backed just before the off, and had little trouble rewarding his supporters.
The 13-8 favourite travelled on the front-end from the outset, and proved one of the few really suited to the trip, as he eased clear in the closing stages for a clear-cut victory from 50-1 chance Sunchyme.
There was a victory for persistence and consistency in the bumper, as Glendine River made her experience count when giving Dungarvan trainer Dermot O’Brien his first victory since taking out his licence last year.
Having her ninth run in this sphere, the mare held a narrow lead turning for home, and picked up well to beat promising newcomer Jelan by two and three quarter lengths.