The Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old, which was recording his third success over hurdles, survived a bad mistake, when cantering, with the race apparently in safekeeping, at the second last before digging deep to see off Msmilan by half-length, with longtime leader Rise Of An Empire back in third.
Winning rider Bryan Cooper (recording his third win since returning to action on Saturday), explained: “He was a bit keen, because they didn’t go quick enough for him. He jumped really well and the mistake was half my fault.
“But to be fair to him, and you mightn’t have expected it six months ago, he stuck his head out when it mattered and won well. He’s crying out for fences and I’m looking forward to his going chasing.”
Later, speaking by phone, winning trainer Elliott commented: “I was going to go chasing with him, but he’s won three over hurdles and we’ll have to think about it. He’ll get a few entries in Galway including the Galway Hurdle. He’s getting his act together – I don’t know if it’s the better ground or that he’s grown up.”
Top-weight Steamboat Bill completed a double for Elliott when, responding to Jack Kennedy’s perseverance, he got the better of the flattering 20/1 shot Aughnacurraveal in the three-mile Leo Dolan Memorial Handicap Hurdle.
The tough five-year-old prevailed by a half-length prompting his rider to comment: “He’s a favourite of mine. He’s lazy but gets the job done. He has ability, jumped brilliant and stays well.”
Elliott added: “He’s doing well for us and stays very well. Jack was good on him. I’ll talk to the owners about going to Galway,”
Both maiden hurdles on the card went to 33/1 shots as the James Nash-trained hurdling debutante Vintage Salon brushed aside the challenge of Kalopsia in the opening mares event and, after odds-on favourite Captain Barbossa took a crashing (and fatal) fall three from home, when struggling, the Martinstown Opportunity Maiden Hurdle went to Herbiegoesbananas, ridden for Sandra Hughes by Conor Brassil.
After the opener, James Nash confirmed: “That’s the way she’s been working all along. She has a fabulous pedigree and I thought she’d have no problem winning a bumper. But she was very disappointing. So we gave up on that plan and decided to give this game a try. She’s doe plenty of schooling, but it was a bit of a surprise.”
And, after Herbiegoesbananas saw off Rockey Storm and Bomber Jackson in the Martinstown, Sandra Hughes described the outcome as “a nice surprise” before adding: “Being by Presenting, she’s very ground dependent but I didn’t think she was up to winning a maiden. She’s a very good jumper and will probably go chasing fairly soon.”
Conor Brassil, rider of Herbiegoesbananas, completed a double when Kilcarragh Boy, trained in Kilcolgan, County Galway by John Neilan, wore down front-running By The Banks on the run-in to win the Keen print Handicap Hurdle.
“He works well and does things right at home, but he has been unlucky a few times,” stated Neilan. “This is only his fourth run for me and, with a bit of luck, he might win another. He’s a real two-mile horse and Conor gave him a good ride, going around the outside for the better ground.”
Even-money favourite He’s A Gent fopped in the roscommonracecourse.ie Flat Race, which went to second favourite Baltimore Buzz, ridden by Johnny King to beat Angelica Yeats by five lengths.
The winner is trained by Aidan Howard, who explained: “He couldn’t win a point-to-point and I decided to go for a maiden hurdle, a race that has worked out well. I was hoping for a bit of rain, for safe ground, because he handles ease well. He jumps very well and will go back for a maiden hurdle now.”