Marina cruise impresses bookies

Glencove Marina made a big splash in the ante-post markets on the Cheltenham Festival after running out a deeply impressive winner of the Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

Glencove Marina made a big splash in the ante-post markets on the Cheltenham Festival after running out a deeply impressive winner of the Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

After beating Finger Onthe Pulse by a ready 10 lengths to complete a 43-1 treble for Ruby Walsh, the Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old received a 6-1 quote from Cashmans for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy, although Paddy Power offer 9s and Stan James 12s.

Future plans were not immediately clear and the last-named firm also offer 16-1 for the Royal & SunAlliance.

Walsh said: “We’ve always loved this horse and I’ve always thought this is the best horse we’ve had in Willie’s yard for some time.

“The way he jumped and travelled, he was just a cut above the rest. He’s a proper horse.”

Mullins added: “We’ll probably come back here for a race on Hennessy day (February 10).

“He’ll be entered for all the big races at Cheltenham. He could have the speed to drop in trip for an Arkle but he looks like he might be more of a stayer.”

David Casey was taken to hospital for assessment after taking a crashing fall aboard Perce Rock.

Casey, standing in for the injured Tony McCoy, has suffered a terrible run with injuries in the past.

The Mullins-trained, Walsh-ridden Scotsirish (7-2) had earlier outpointed the highly-regarded Wins Now in the P.B.S. Beginners’ Chase to earn himself quotes of 16-1 for the Arkle.

VC Bet and Totesport both offer that price, with the latter firm also offering the same about Wins Now.

Mullins said: “We are delighted with that. He’s bred for good ground and that was the only concern coming here.

“We’ll have to look at the (Irish) Arkle here now (January 27) for him.”

County Meath trainer James Barrett was on cloud nine after his progressive Barker landed a major prize for the up-and-coming yard in the Pierse Hurdle.

Barrett, who had saddled just four winners prior to cheering home the 10-1 shot, admitted connections had only been tempted to go for the 130,000 euro two-miler after the seven-year-old had won so impressively at Fairyhouse last month.

The team also harboured concerns about the heavy going but Barker adapted perfectly and finished his race strongly to deny 33-1 chance Brave Right by a length and a quarter.

A jubilant Barrett said: “If he hadn’t have won so well last time he would never have run here as the plan was to go novice chasing.

“To win the Pierse Hurdle with only your fifth winner is amazing – things aren’t going so bad.”

Barrett continued: “That was awesome. We were afraid of the ground, but Timmy (Murphy) said he handled it and they were going so fast it suited him.

“We’ll have a look at the County Hurdle at Cheltenham now.”

Davy Fitzgerald’s Mister Top Notch put up a monster performance under the steadying burden of 11st 10lb to win the valuable Pierse Leopardstown Handicap Chase in the hands of Conor O’Dwyer.

After seeing off King Johns Castle by a length and a quarter to land odds of 14-1, Fitzgerald said: “I was very worried about the ground. After Conor rode him in the John Durkan Chase he said never to run him on that ground again.

“We’ll go for the Hennessy now. That looks the plan as he loves this place, which is a real help.”

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