The Big Bad Bob gelding showed clear signs of inexperience when challenging under Colm O’Donoghue and, when in front, edged left and right before holding the renewed challenge of Future Proof by a neck with the rallying, 98-rated favourite Burgundy Boy only a nose away in third.
In the absence of the winning trainer, O’Donoghue said: “He’s a horse that has always shown a good level of ability. But he’s strong-minded and has been a bit tricky at home.
We had to pull him together a bit and he should improve a good bit from this. He was babyish, which he was entitled to be, and lugged in and out. But he did well to win, against a couple of decent horses with previous experience.
Chris Hayes has enjoyed a good start to the new season and was seen at his strongest when landing the Roscommon Handicap on Well Why Not, trained by Adrian McAllister, who got the better of front-running For Pleasure after a ding-dong battle up the straight.
The grey daughter of Frozen Power showed a good attitude, as she did last time in Navan, to score by a length, prompting McAllister to explain: “Chris feels that the key to her is the ground. If it stays soft, we’ll keep at it with her but, if it comes up good for the summer, we’ll put her away and bring her back for the back-end of the season.
She was put up 16lb for her last two runs and we must wait and see what she’ll get for this. But she’s improving with every run.
Eight-year-old mare Like An Open Book pounced late under Wayne Lordan to foil Minnie Dahill in the Irish Stallion Farms Fillies Maiden, getting up to score by a neck for trainer John Burke.
Billy Lee, denied on Minnie Dahill, enjoyed better luck when Bianca Minola, under a mandatory penalty for a win in Cork on Saturday, followed-up for trainer-in-form Richard O’Brien.
The 11-4 shot, in the colours of Clive Washbourn, held the late effort of favourite Curley Bill by a length, prompting her trainer to explain: “Billy felt she travelled better in that ground — it was quite gluey in Cork.
She seemed terrible well at home, so I couldn’t see why we shouldn’t run her again. I haven’t her entered in anything else but, she’s in such good form I won’t delay with her.
In the National Hunt action, the new alliance of Noel Meade and Mark O’Hare struck again when Momus led home a one-two for Gigginstown House Stud in the bumper, beating Desir Du Large convincingly by 13 lengths. “He’s big and tall and will turn into a nice horse with a summer’s grass,” said Meade.
“This horse has turned inside out in the last six weeks. He’s a grand big horse and will be a chaser in time.”
And he quipped “Nina (Carberry) went too soon, because we’re having a great run. Mark came in to ride out and one thing has led to another – I can’t take him off them now anyway.”
The Willie Mullins-trained favourite Screaming Rose, ridden by David Mullins, made virtually all to land the concluding mares beginners chase, holding off the persistent challenge of The Kings Baby by a head before surviving a stewards’ enquiry.
The seven-year-old, pulled up in a valuable handicap hurdle at Punchestown last time, produced her best display of jumping yet and, although leaning on the runner-up from the last, was always holding her rival.
She’ll now be campaigned through the summer.
David Mullins said: “There was a bit of a side sun and she was a bit lairy. She was pricking her ears, but had more in the tank.”
Dinnie Vinnie, representing the father and son combination of Philip and Luke Dempsey, proved best in the myITdepartment.ie Handicap Chase, holding off favourite and top-weight Concordin, who made a costly mistake at the final fence.