A useful sort on the level at his best, he had to concede weight to all of his rivals this time, but there was never a moment’s concern for his supporters as the Johnny Barry-ridden 4-9 chance, despite being keen early, shrugged off an untidy leap at the last to see off Brog Deas Nua with the minimum of fuss.
Said winning trainer Karl Thornton: “It’s grand to get another maiden hurdle into him for experience, but he was in no way wound-up and will come on a tonne for it. Hopefully he is on the right road now. The last three or four days I haven’t been mad happy with him but still thought him good enough to win, so we let him take his chance. He’ll come on from the run, but he’s so big we’ll take our time with him. His jumping will improve, too.”
Referring to the previous disqualification, Thornton added: “He never had any cuts, never had any issues, so it’s still a mystery why (an anti-inflammatory was found in his sample). When the test came back positive from Newmarket, they said it was a seven-day withdrawal period but he only tested clear on Wednesday –three months later. The whole summer has been wasted.”
Whizzzey Rascal really enjoyed herself in front in the Kilsheelan Mares’ Maiden Hurdle, and proved too smart for her rivals. Lisa O’Neill sent her mount, one of the 11-4 joint favourites, off in front and the Liz Doyle-trained runner responded with a fine display of jumping. Kiera Royale was the only rival to throw down any degree of a challenge but, after getting to within a length on the turn for home, could not match the leader in the straight, and was all out to hold on for second place behind the six-and-a-half-length winner.
Said the winning trainer: “I’m delighted with that because she was rotten on me during the summer – I couldn’t get her clean.
“Sean Flanagan said the last day that all she does is stay so we decided to make the running with her today. She’s in a three-mile handicap at Gowran, which I won with Thekingofconnemara in 2014, and if she gets in she could go for that.”
After a series of placed efforts in bumpers and over hurdles, interrupted only by two disappointing efforts over fences, Simiel (9-2 to 3-1) earned his stripes in the New Inn Opportunity Maiden Hurdle. The seven-year-old raced prominently from the outset, jumped well in the main and, despite wandering a little between the last two, found plenty to repel the effort of the well-backed Double Windsor.
Native Lass had her supporters in the Woodrooff Handicap Hurdle, and Mick Winters’ mare, backed from 16s to 11s, did just enough to see off another well-supported runner, long-time leader Rock On Bach, by the minimum margin.
Christy Roche had first and third in the Giantsgrave Handicap Hurdle, with the JP McManus-owned Finding Touch belying a market drift (13-2 to 9-1) to land the spoils with something to spare. Well-backed Courtin Bb took second place, with the winner’s stable companion, Neddyvaughan, in third.
War Of The Pennys landed some nice wagers when landing the Derrygrath Opportunity Handicap Hurdle for trainer Donald Cashman and jockey Conor Walsh. Backed from an opening show of 20-1 down to a starting price of 9-1, he was brought with a well-timed run to touch off Manuka, with long-time leader The King Of Brega a close third.
In light of Court Artist taking a significant walk in the market, from odds-on in the morning to 15-8 joint favourite at the off, there was a shortening of many of the other runners in the bumper. George Kingston’s Sillogue Pio (20-1 to 14-1) was just one of those, though a Betfair SP of 15 suggests there was some genuine support behind the seven-year-old, who had shown little in two previous starts.
Back after a break and with a hood applied for the first time, he showed improved form, as he raced prominently before hitting the front and galloping clear up the straight to win by a wide margin and in the process completing a near-21-1 double for jockey Johnny Barry.