Willie Mullins topped the bill at Thurles today, winning two races, both in great style and with horses we could hear plenty more about as the season progresses.
Franco De Port’s hurdling career never really went where it promised but the lightly raced gelding had his attention turned to chasing for the Killinan Beginners’ Chase and made the perfect start. It was not the most competitive of events, but Whatsnottoknow ensured the odds-on favourite would not have it all his own way. The latter led over the second-last but thereafter the favourite took over and stayed on well to score cosily.
“He’s a good jumper,” said winning rider Paul Townend. “He pulled too hard in the Coral Cup (on his final start of last season) and we just put a line through that, and maybe fences will bring about improvement. He’s not overly big but is very sure of foot and that is a big help, especially around here.”
There may not have been much depth to the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares’ Maiden Hurdle but even her trainer was impressed by the display of Gauloise. Kenny Alexander’s mare, winner of a bumper on her only outing in France, quickened up in tremendous fashion from the back of the second-last, flew the final flight and won in the style of a filly who will make the grade.
“She had been in good form at home, but I was taken with the way that she quickened after the second-last and put it to bed,” said Mullins.
“She looks like she might make into a decent filly if she keeps improving. At the moment I’m hoping there’s improvement in all of ours. I loved the turn of foot she showed.”
The Henry De Bromhead-trained Gua Du Large, who came out second best in a photo finish on last month’s track debut, went one place better in the Thurles Maiden Hurdle.
Market rival Gjoumi set out to make all but did not look the most straightforward. Rachael Blackmore took over aboard the eventual winner as they raced between the last two obstacles and was in command when the long-time leader departed at the last.
“I’m delighted with that,” said De Bromhead. “He’s still very babyish, but he’s obviously a nice horse and hopefully he will keep progressing. Rachael said he was pretty green when he came off it, but she was happy with him. We’ll look for a race for him at Christmas.”
In his long career to date, 11-year-old All The Chinmeys has never yet risen above a mark of 112 either over fences or hurdles but he has been well handled and placed by trainer Willie Austin to win eight times. Win number eight came in the ThurlesRaces.ie Handicap Chase, in which he stretched away late under Trevor Ryan to win with such authority it would be no surprise were he to receive a career-high mark.
The experienced Capilano Bridge was sent off the 4-6 favourite to win the Holycross Maiden Hurdle and, while it was not entirely straight-forward, he ultimately got the job done quite well. He was a little keen in the race and jumped out to his left on a couple of occasions, which opened the door for The Cathal Don to mount a serious challenge. However, the favourite was back in front going to the last and ran on well to win readily for Ricky Doyle and Conor O’Dwyer.
Listenheretomejack’s recent form had been building toward a success and Eoin Doyle’s five-year-old got that in the Templemore Handicap Hurdle. A half-brother to the talented Show And Go, he has adapted well to handicap company and, despite being 3lbs higher than when runner-up earlier this month at Fairyhouse, won well under regular pilot Donagh Meyler.
Paddy Kennedy rode his third winner of the week when guiding Ballyshannon Rose to victory in the Horse & Jockey Handicap Hurdle. Paul Fahey’s seasonal debutant, a very lightly raced seven-year-old mare, was clear turning for home and found plenty for A Girl Like Me’s late pressure to win well.