Willie Mullins and Paul Townend continue to produce winners at an impressive rate, and they added three more on Sunday’s card in Naas. The treble brought Townend’s tally for the season to 85, four clear of championship rival Rachael Blackmore.
The day began on the perfect note for the team when Cilaos Emery made all the running in the Grade Three WhatOddsPaddy? Chase. Giving 9lbs and a comprehensive beating to Daly Tiger bodes well for the remainder of the season for Luke McMahon’s horse.
Leg two came in the Grade Two Paddy Power Betting Shop Novice Hurdle, which Echoes In Rain turned it into a procession. A keen-going sort, Townend anchored her as best he could behind the front-running Razzle Dazzle Love, let her go about her business after the third-last, and she coasted clear up the straight.
Townend said: “That was the main thing to take out of today: that she’s a lot more manageable. She jumped great, and she raced more like a National Hunt mare today. I think she is growing up the whole time, and that she will learn how to race properly.”
The short-priced treble was complete when Egality Mans made light of a long absence in winning the first division of the two-mile maiden hurdle. Like Cilaos Emery, he made all the running and, despite jumping high on occasion, was too good for the promising Pont Du Gard, the pair a long way clear.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Closutton team as odds-on favourite Micro Manage was trumped by the Enda Bolger-trained Genois the second division of the two-mile maiden. Mark Walsh stalked the pace before asking his mount to challenge in the straight. He picked up well from the last to readily account for the favourite.
“From day one, he always showed us he had ability,” said Bolger. “Charlie Swan found him in France, and he’s just a dream horse to work with. The drier ground today was in his favour, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the spring with him. Down the line he’s going to make a lovely chaser.”
The day’s most valuable race was the From The Horse’s Mount Novice Handicap Chase, won by Home By The Lee. Held up off a strong pace, he made rapid progress around the final bend. In front as they straightened up, the Joseph O’Brien-trained six-year-old moved clear over the last few fences to beat win well for JJ Slevin.
“He’ been a great horse,” said Slevin. “He won two bumpers, a hurdle, and three chases. He stuck at it very well (today). He’s a great stayer. I don’t know where he’s going to go, but an Irish National on Easter Monday could be worth a look at.”
A week on from his heroics aboard Young Dev, jockey Hugh Morgan once again teamed up with trainer Denis Hogan and owner Liam Mulryan to ride Zoffanien in the Paddy Power Road To Cheltenham Maiden Hurdle. The result was just the same, but the performance far more straightforward as his mount jumped well, cruised to the front late on and won as he pleased. The Boodles Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival is on the cards for the winner.
Trainer Charles Byrnes, whose six-month suspension from training begins later this week, took the Paddy’s Rewards Club Handicap Hurdle with Light Brigade. Kevin Brouder’s mount won by three parts of length but idled in front and looked value for much more than the winning margin.
Gerri Colombe brought his record to three wins from three starts in all disciplines when winning the bumper for Gordon Elliott and Jamie Codd.