Having his first start for Henry De Bromhead, having been placed in a Grade 2 Hurdle for Tony Martin, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned seven-year-old reverted to hurdles and made his quality count with a slick victory.
Patiently ridden, he travelled nicely to the final bend, where he momentarily came under pressure. Back on the bridle in the straight, he eased past long-time leader Moylisha Tim for a victory worth more than the length-and-a-half margin would suggest.
“Isn’t he a lovely horse to have? There’s a bit of quality about him,” said De Bromhead. “In Aintree last year he looked like he was going to go close (in a Grade 3 handicap hurdle). He’s a high-class horse, and I’m delighted to start with a win with him. We’ll see how he comes out of that, but possibly the beginners’ chase in Galway over two-six could be next.”
There was a winning favourite to start proceedings, as Shane Donohoe’s Lord Fendale (5-2) took an eventful maiden hurdle. Market rival Hallmark was still going well until Cock A Doodle Do slipped on the final bend and brought him down. Hard to know whether it would have affected the result as the favourite won without being fully extended.
Edmond Kent’s yard is hitting form and bumper and maiden hurdle winner Star Counsel came with a wet sail to claim victory in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle under Mark Flanagan.
Said Kent: “She won a bumper here, but got a leg last year and has made a nice comeback there. She didn’t like the ground, but Mark took her wide down the back and she seemed to come back in his hands.
“She’s tough, and will probably jump a fence now. I had intended to go straight3 over fences but her handicap mark was still nice enough so we said we’d give this another go.”
Joseph O’Brien continues to rack up the winners, and his King Leon added to the tally when winning the Tipperary Town Plaza Plate Handicap Chase under Mark Walsh. A bad mistake at the first past the stands on the final circuit only served to keep the 11-4 joint-favourite’s mind on the job, and he jumped the front four out, and thereafter never relinquished his advantage.
“He’s a tough horse, and it probably wasn’t as good a race as he ran in the last day – he probably bumped into one (The King Of Brega) in Limerick,” said O’Brien.
Of the jumping error, he added: “He can do that, but it probably was no harm where it happened as he winged everything else after that. It’s good to get him to win, and we’ll try to find something for him at Galway.”
The winner carried the colours of JP McManus, who also took the following race, the two-and-a-half-mile beginners’ chase with the Mags Mullins-trained Dundrum Lad. Jockey Niall Madden did well to keep the partnership intact when his mount made a bad mistake at the second-last, but he galvanised the six-year-old and they got up very late to rob victory from Just Likeold Times.
After an impressive display at Killarney on Thursday, the in-foal Supreme Vic had little trouble following up under her mandatory 6lb penalty in the Packie Downey Memorial Handicap Chase. Ridden prominently by Jack Kennedy, Norman Lee’s mare shared pace-setting duties with Kemboy, and when that one faced late she had plenty left to hold off Casimir Road.
“We’re very proud of her,” said Lee. “She was in some form at home this morning, and it took two of us to hold her in the parade ring. If everything is right she might go to Galway for a two-mile handicap hurdle or a chase, but she’ll finish up before the end of next month as she’s in foal to Rock Of Gibraltar.”
After watching his son, Finny, bring Oscars Boss with a winning run in the bumper, trainer Adrian Maguire said: “He’s a gorgeous, gorgeous big horse – he’s 17hh plus – and has needed all the time he has been given.”
Successful at Cork in March, he had been due to go to the sales in Punchestown but suffered a setback which prevented him going there. On this evidence that may have been fortunate for connections, as he looked a bright prospect as he galloped by well-backed favourite Black Ace inside the final half-furlong.
“Finny gave him a super ride,” added Maguire. “He won in Mallow on proper soft ground, but, for a big horse, he’d go on better. I don’t know where he’ll go now, but I do know I’d like to have more like him.”
- One of the biggest talking points of the afternoon was the non-appearance of the truck which should have been beaming live action from the track. The up-link truck failed to make it to the venue, leaving the betting shops and other streaming outlets without pictures.