There were moments he looked in trouble, including when under strong pressure coming down the hill for the final time, but he responded well to Ian McCarthy’s urgings to put his head in front in the shadow of the post.
“He had a run around Punchestown against horses that were going too quick for him, but this was 0-116 and he was the highest-rated horse in the race,” said Walsh. “They had a few quid each-way on him and if he wasn’t capable of finishing in the first three you were in trouble.”
Joseph O’Brien’s stunning start to his training career continued when newcomer Oh Me Oh My, ridden by Jody McGarvey, landed the opening maiden hurdle in good style. The mare travelled stylishly and close to the pace, and was still going best turning for home.
The easy-to-back 4-1 chance cruised to the front early in the straight, and stayed on strongly to beat fellow debutant Patricks Park.
“Initially, the plan was to start off in a bumper but this race looked suitable for her,” said O’Brien. “Jody said she jumped a bit novicey in places. She has a bit of size about her, and her dam won over fences, so she’ll jump a fence in time, and you’d imagine she’d stay further.”
A quick return to the track is on the cards for Ballinaboola Lass, after she bolted home in the Micro Dog ID Handicap Hurdle for Tony and Danny Mullins. Brought wide throughout, she was sent to the front on the first circuit, and proved vastly superior as she stretched away to a wide-margin success.
“It was Danny’s idea to stay wide, as she panicked on the inside at Tramore the last day,” said the winning trainer. “He felt she didn’t like being tightened up, so kept her out. She’ll probably run at Wexford on Wednesday.”
The Kieran Purcell-trained You Can’t Catch Me once again showed his liking for this track, when coasting home clear in the Orchard Thieves Handicap Hurdle. Held up early by Brian O’Connell, he eased into contention on the final circuit and didn’t have to be extended to secure his third victory at this venue.
On Fiddlers Green had no trouble justifying heavy support in the Sporting Press Beginners’ Chase under Davy Russell. Valentino’s Choice made the pace until the eventual winner, sent off 4-6, took over racing down the back on the final circuit.
Thereafter it was a formality, as he strolled clear for an emphatic victory. A three-mile winners of one at Limerick on July 3 is next on the agenda for the six-year-old, who was having just his second start for Henry De Bromhead.
After Kieran Purcell earlier success, Paul O’Flynn became the second former All-Ireland winner to earn a visit to the winner’s enclosure, the Mallow trainer doing so with Pops Well in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase.
Winner of a point to point on Monday, at Ballingarry, she showed her rude health with an all-the-way victory under Ambrose McCurtin.
“She’s as tough as nails,” said O’Flynn. “She’s fit and healthy and you might as well strike while the iron is hot. We got lucky a small bit, with the ease in the ground – they did a great job watering it.
“There are a few mares’ chases coming up, so I might try to get some black-type with her. She has it in a bumper and if I could get it into her a bit more into her over fences.”
Khalessi made most of the running to take the concluding mares’ bumper for Mallow trainer Tom Nagle and jockey Barry O’Neill. The gambled-on Robyn Belle mounted a strong late challenge, but the 8-1 chance had enough in hand to fend off that rival with half a length to spare.