Ridden by Jonathan Moore (recording his first win as a 3lb. claimer), the six-year-old dictated the pace, had chief market rival Miguel Angel struggling between the last two flights and stayed on dourly to hold Lake Malawi by a length ad three-quarters in the four-runner affair.
“He’s a grand big horse and will make a lovely chaser next year,” stated Meade. “I was just hoping that Johnny had gone fast enough, because this horse only has one gear. He wants fast ground and is a real three-miler.
“There’s not much left for a novice over three miles, so he’ll probably have to go into a handicap somewhere.”
The frustrating Cradle Mountain, runner-up in three of his previous five starts over hurdles and a friendless 11/4 joint-favourite in the market, belatedly opened his hurdling account for Joseph O’Brien and J P McManus, surviving a last flight mistake before getting the better of front-runner Echo Lady by a half –length.
“He was highly-rated on the flat but, in most of his races, hasn’t jumped or travelled,” commented winning rider Jody McGarvey. “That was a long-time coming and I suppose he did well to win after the mistake at the last.”
A sting-in-the-tail for McGarvey was a two-day ban for using his whip with excessive frequency.
Sharlanda, trained by Colm Murphy, won the Tim Kelly Group Handicap Hurdle, tiring close home but holding Stormey by a half-length.
In the absence of the trainer, Robbie Power explained: “She has been consistent and was due that. She ran well in Bellewstown, on ground that was a bit slow for her. Colm said this morning that she had improved a good bit. The good gallop and quick ground suited her but she needed the line.”
Out of luck in the feature on Miguel Angel, Paul Townend was on the mark on board the Dessie McDonogh-trained Little Haarth, which ran out a convincing winner of the McGrath Limestone Works Ltd. Handicap Chase.
“He’s a grand little lad,” stated the delighted trainer. “The handicapper gave him a chance and he ran well in Bellewstown for his first run back. The man on board knew what he had today and the extra furlong was no harm. I think we’ll head to Ballybrit with him now – there are a couple of races for him and he could run in the valuable handicap on the Saturday.”
Following the withdrawal of overnight favourite Jack The Wire, Kansas Kid struck for the father and son combination of Pat and Tony Kelly (riding his first winner in Ireland since September 2012) in the Mayo News Maiden Hurdle, the uneasy 2/1 favourite stretching clear between the last two flights to slam stable-companion Thelastonetogo (9/1 to 11/2) by twelve lengths.
“It wasn’t much of a race and he’ll be going to the Sales,” said the winning trainer. “Tony (who is based with Rebecca Menzies in the north of England) is only home for two days – they’re moving yards, to John Wade’s. So it worked out well.”