So said winning trainer Willie Mullins after watching Simenon, ridden by Ruby Walsh, justify odds of 2-5 in the inaugural running of the Joe Walsh Memorial, run in the name of the late Minister for Agriculture and TD for Cork South-West who died in November of 2014.
The winner, a versatile nine-year-old with high-class form on the Flat, had only three rivals here and jumped with enthusiasm throughout before easing clear after the last to win with the authority one would hope for from such a short-priced favourite.
Mullins, who was crowned leading trainer at the Galway Festival after nine winners and numerous places horses, said: “He has won over two miles, two and a half, and three miles and, as he gets older, he’s settling and jumping better.
“He’s a lovely horse to have as an owner — he can run on the Flat, over hurdles, and we’ll be going over fences shortly.
“He’s probably not good enough to win the good staying races (on the Flat), and I don’t know if I want to go back handicapping with him. He has schooled well over fences, and we were going to bring him to Galway, but I just didn’t think I might want to let Ruby ride him on the second day of Galway. We might come back in trip for his first run over fences.”
Carrigtwohill handler Terence O’Brien was one of three local trainers on the mark, and his Mill Quest took the mares’ handicap hurdle in runaway fashion.
“She was just disappointing all along, because she’s a mare we thought was going to be decent enough,” admitted O’Brien.
“She’s a half-sister to some good horses in Glenquest, Cool Quest and Mister Hyde, and we expected more of her.
“She was always working well at home, and we could find no reason she was wasn’t running well. But today she got her own way, which suited her, and hopefully there’ll be another one or two races in her.”
The consistent Undefined Beauty, trained by Ted Stanners, earned a deserved change of luck when getting up late under a perfectly judged ride by Jack Kennedy to foil favourite Round Tower in the Mercy Hospital Foundation Maiden Hurdle.
Winning owner Conor Murphy, who leases the Inishannon yard to Stanners, said: “She seemed to like the ground today, and the longer trip also suited.
“We’ll try to get some black type with her.”
Another consistent sort not winning out of turn was the well-backed Fiddlers Bow, who took the two-mile-three handicap hurdle for Conna trainer Jimmy Mangan and jockey Davy Russell.
“The form tells you he never ran a bad race, and he was always going to have his day,” said a relieved Mangan. “Davy said he may have got there a bit too soon — he likes to come late. We’re learning about him all the time, but Davy gave him an outstanding ride.
“He will make a better chaser than hurdler, and I like supporting Tramore, so he will definitely have an entry over fences there.”
One trainer who had to make quite the journey was Newry-based Pat Collins, whose Hello Sweetie took the opening maiden hurdle under Keith Donoghue.
The disappointment was even-money favourite Rosshaven Lady, who had to settle for third place after a modest round of jumping.
Collins said: “She’s no superstar but has done her job now, and I think she can win again. She has schooled well and will jump a fence no problem.”
John Ryan has a nice prospect in the shape of Bitview Colin, who made all the running in the Irish Examiner Handicap Hurdle in the hands of Danny Mullins. Despite not being entirely fluent in his jumping, the five-year-old found plenty to fend off Lord Fendale.
“I’ve always thought a lot of him, and he’s very a proper family — his dam won Grade Twos in France,” said Ryan.
“He’ll go down the novice hurdle route now, but he’s a lovely horse to have.”
Cavan trainer Shane Donohoe took the finale with the aptly-named Rainy Day Dylan.
Making his track debut, having been pulled up in both previous point-to-points, he was ridden positively, amassed a sizable advantage, and never looked like being reeled in, despite the late gains of Leopards Leap.