Sandra Hughes gained an emotional first Grade One triumph just two weeks after the death of her father Dessie when Lieutenant Colonel won a dramatic Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
Having registered her first success with a licence just 24 hours earlier, Hughes was back in the winner’s enclosure thanks to the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding, ridden by Bryan Cooper.
The turning point of the race came when the hot favourite Zaidpour fell, bringing down King Of The Picts at a flight around the halfway stage and not doing Jetson any favours.
Little King Robin set out to make all the running but was stalked by both the remaining runners.
There was little to choose between the other pair at the final flight, but Lieutenant Colonel produced the better turn of foot to beat Jetson by four lengths.
Returning to a warm welcome, Hughes said of the 7-2 winner: “It was always Dad’s plan to stay over hurdles with him this year. He was beaten first time over fences so we decided to give him an extra year over hurdles.
“He’s in at Christmas so we’ll have to have a look at that.”
Owner Michael O’Leary said: “He’s only five and when he didn’t win his beginners’ chase first time out we thought we’d put him over hurdles and see what he could do.
“I think we’ll keep him to hurdles now for the rest of the year and hopefully the novice chases won’t be quite as tough next year.”
Gigginstown and Cooper completed a Grade One double when Valseur Lido emerged an emphatic winner of the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase.
Willie Mullins’ five-year-old dispensed with the opposition in tremendous style to give the handler a treble on what proved to be a mixed day for the champion trainer.
Real Steel, also representing Gigginstown, made the running despite losing ground by jumping out to the left on occasions and to his credit remained in contention.
Valseur Lido (7-2) made smooth progress to lead after the second-last and forged clear to win by eight lengths from the always-prominent Apache Stronghold. Real Steel kept on admirably for third.
Mullins said: “He jumped well and for his second time over fences was very clever. He keeps doing more than I think he’s able to do.
“He’s much more comfortable over fences. I’d be thinking of the RSA, or the JLT, at the moment. I wouldn’t be looking to go back in trip with him at this stage.”
O’Leary said: “He did it well. We ran three to give them more experience and they all ran very well. I think Real Steel is the horse to take out of it, given he goes left-handed he must have given away half a furlong.
“Bryan said Valseur Lido had plenty left in the tank even at the end. We’re very fortunate and hopefully we’ll keep them all fit and well on to Christmas and make a plan after that.”
Paddy Power trimmed Valseur Lido to 6-1 from 10s for the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.
The Tullow Tank, the 7-4 favourite from the Hughes stable, never got into a challenging position and could finish only fifth.
Gigginstown rounded off a treble when Identity Thief (25-1) made a winning debut in the Follow MeathGAA On Twitter Fundraiser (Pro/Am) Flat Race under amateur Davy Roche.
“He’s always worked nicely at home, but our horses normally need their first run. Davy said he was very green, but he picked up well,” said trainer Henry de Bromhead.
“I will talk to the O’Learys to see where we go next. He has already worked well in a few schoolings over hurdles.”
The third Grade One race on the card, the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle, went to the Mullins-trained second string Nichols Canyon, but victory was marred by the death of stablemate Allez Colombieres.
Following on from his jumping debut victory at Cork, Nichols Canyon (7-2) led before the final flight in the hands of Paul Townend and went on to score by five lengths from All Hell Let Loose.
Mullins said: “His jumping has improved as he was untidy the last day. Paul said there was plenty left in the tank if anything came to him.
“He’ll go the normal two-mile route and will probably run next at Leopardstown after Christmas.”
There was a sad postscript for the Mullins team as Allez Colombieres was pulled up early on and had to be put down due to the extent of his injuries.
Mullins and owner Rich Ricci had began the day well when Kalkir (9-10 favourite) staked a strong early claim for the JCB Triumph Hurdle with an impressive victory in the Bar One Racing Juvenile 3-Y-O Hurdle.
Fourth over hurdles at Auteuil in April when trained by Guillaume Macaire, the three-year-old won as he liked by eight lengths under Ruby Walsh.
“He’s a good jumper and jumps well at home. He’s worked well at home without setting the gallops on fire. He’ll run at Christmas next,” said Mullins.
Ros Brin (12-1) capitalised on a final-fence mistake by Down Ace to secure victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares’ Handicap Chase.under Davy Russell for trainer George Kingston.
Robert Tyner’s Embracing Change (7-2 favourite) got up on the line to edge out Sword Fish by a short head in the Bar One Racing Porterstown Handicap Chase for Philip Enright.