Unaccompanied stars in Istabraq Hurdle

Classy filly Unaccompanied showed the boys the way home with an impressive performance in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Classy filly Unaccompanied showed the boys the way home with an impressive performance in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown.

The four-year-old was a Grade One winner at this track in February before going on to fill the runner-up spot in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.

She also secured a Listed prize on the Flat in April, when she had none other than Breeders’ Cup winner St Nicholas Abbey in behind.

Unaccompanied headed back to the Foxrock venue following a Listed hurdle win at Naas and beat a clutch of high-class hurdlers with something to spare under a fine Paul Townend ride.

Last month’s Morgiana Hurdle winner Thousand Stars was the even-money favourite for Willie Mullins, in the absence of his stable star Hurricane Fly.

But under a waiting ride from Ruby Walsh, he was unable to match Unaccompanied when she quickened for home.

Dermot Weld’s filly cruised into the home straight before picking up Oscars Well on the run to the final flight, after which she pulled clear for a one-and-a-half-length victory.

Thousand Stars finished off his race to good effect, but it was only enough to claim the runner-up spot.

Weld said: “She’s a very good mare and is only a four-year-old. She beat St Nicholas Abbey in the Alleged Stakes on the Flat.

“I was concerned I was throwing her in the deep end against proven horses. The second is a very solid high-class horse. She answered the call.

“The Irish Champion Hurdle in a month’s time is the logical step.

“If everything went well we’ll look at the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.”

Unaccompanied is now 12-1 from 25-1 with Stan James for the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Shark Hanlon has yet to decide whether to ready Hidden Cyclone for a trip to Prestbury Park following his impressive debut over fences in the Ballymaloe Country Relish Beginners Chase.

The 7-4 shot won five times over hurdles, including twice in Graded company, but did not face a straightforward task on his first foray over larger obstacles.

Andrew McNamara was positive on his mount, who stayed on powerfully to beat Nearest The Pin by two lengths, with Shot From The Hip a disappointing fourth.

“He wasn’t 100% and will improve a good bit. His jumping was good but Andrew said it would have to improve to move up to Graded class,” said Hanlon.

“He idled halfway up the straight and met the last wrong. There’s a winners-of-one race at Fairyhouse at the end of January and he’ll go there.

“We haven’t made our minds up about Cheltenham. That was a fair race and he did it well but he’ll have to improve to be a Cheltenham horse.”

Our Girl Salley landed the ITBA Fillies Scheme EBF Mares Hurdle for the second successive year under Barry Geraghty.

The two-and-a-half-mile contest was upgraded to Grade Three status for this year’s renewal and the 11-4 favourite rose to the task for Prunella Dobbs, finishing well to beat Stephanie Kate by two and a half lengths.

Dobbs said: “She took a little bit longer to get out this year.

“We want to finish the season with her so we didn’t want her out too early.

“There aren’t very many races for her. We’ll look at the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas and there’s a couple of nice mares’ races for her in England at Ascot and Doncaster.

“The mares’ race at Cheltenham is definitely an option for her.

“The good ground might suit.”

The well-supported Glam Gerry (13-8 favourite) continued trainer Colm Murphy’s fine week by landing a gamble in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase, while Jetson (12-1) struck for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle.

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