Sweet-jumping Ferbet easily takes the spoils

There was a huge crowd at Cork Racecourse for a bumper, eight-race programme on Easter Sunday, and the feature race, the Vincent O’Brien Centenary Chase, went, in great style, to Val De Ferbet.

Sweet-jumping Ferbet easily takes the spoils

The eight-year-old, trained by Andrew McNamara, and ridden by Adrian Heskin, looked on great terms with himself as he raced with enthusiastically on the front-end.

He held his position comfortably until Favourite A Toi Phil came with every chance on the turn for home, but the leader, who ran a race of real promise on the level just five days previously, remained full of running.

The 9-4 chance jumped the last three fences with the same relish as the previous ones, and raced through the line for a wide-margin success, from the even-money favourite.

Winning rider Adrian Heskin, who is now based in Britain, said: “I’m delighted to ride a winner for Andy. He was very good to me when I was starting off riding – we were both in Michael Hourigan’s. I’m delighted he gave me the chance to ride this horse, and he won nicely.

“After we jumped the first, I knew we were going to run a big race, as he was real relaxed. He jumped super and, to be fair, Robbie Power gave me a fair old tutoring on him beforehand. All I had to do was sit up.”

Housemates Rachael Blackmore, Brian Hayes and Patrick Mullins dominated the remainder of the card, winning five of the other seven races.

Blackmore, who is on the brink of making history by becoming the first lady rider to be crowned champion conditional jockey in Ireland, combined with trainer Ellmarie Holden to secure a double, with Look Closer and Static Jack.

When just touched off on his previous outing, at Fairyhouse, Look Closer had shown marked improvement on his three previous outings over timber, and he took another step forward with a facile success in the Mallow Maiden Hurdle.

He quickened right away up the straight to score with a considerable amount in hand, though runner-up Vanishing Point, having his first run for Gordon Elliott, looked a sure-fire future winner when running on strongly into second place.

Holden and Blackmore completed their 14-1 double when Static Jack made a successful chasing debut in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners’ Chase. The 9-2 chance had the measure of long-time leader Balbir Du Mathan early in the straight, and kept on well to hit the line clear of the staying-on Clonalig House.

Of her second winner of the day, Holden said: “It was his first run over fences, so I didn’t know which way it would go, but he had his ground and his trip. Rachael is on fire, she gave him a super ride.”

Brian Hayes secured the first of his two winners on the card by taking the €29,500-to-the-winner Easter Handicap Hurdle for popular Waterford trainer John Kiely, aboard 25-1 chance Conduct Yourself.

“We kind of always thought she was a good mare, and expected her to run well at Wexford the last day, but she just wouldn’t walk on that ground,” explained Kiely.

“She wants better ground and we were hoping they wouldn’t overwater here, and they didn’t. One day she finished third at Listowel, when Brian rode her the first day, and it was like winning the National, just to see her placed. But she has improved since, and we’re delighted to get this good pot with her.”

Boru Boy had been beaten in a handicap and a rated novice hurdle since his maiden hurdle success here in January, but this course and distance clearly suits the Ger Murphy-trained eight-year-old, which stayed on strongly to win the Munster Waste Management Handicap Hurdle, to complete a 207-1 double for Brian Hayes.

“It has been a lucky place for him – that’s two wins from two starts here,” said Murphy. “We could give him another couple of runs over hurdles before going chasing.”

Patrick Mullins made it five for the housemates when riding the well-touted Minella Beau to victory in the corkracecourse.ie Bumper.

“It’s great to get that win because I recommended him to the Mees,” said the winning rider. “He doesn’t do anything in a hurry, but keeps on galloping, so the further he goes, the better he’ll be. And it’s great to get one ahead of Jamie (Codd, in the race for the qualified riders’ title).”

In the O’Brien’s Garage Mares’ Maiden Hurdle, the Robert Tyner-trained Dont Kick Nor Bite stayed on well to beat the easy-to-back Miss Sapphire.

Trainer John Hurley, Midleton, celebrated his first winner on the track when Sunchyme was brought with a late rush, by Danny Mullins, to take the Dermot Casey Tree Card Maiden Hurdle.

“I worked with Noel Meade for four years, and have trained a few point to point winners, but that’s my first winner on the track,” said Hurley. “He hasn’t been the easiest to train, but is very talented.

The ground helped, as did the trip. He’ll keep going for the summer, and might go back over fences now.”

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