Rambranlt’jac, the only runner on the day for the champion partnership of Willie Mullins and Paul Townend, made a satisfactory Irish debut when justifying even-money favouritism in the first division of the Fairyhouse/Dunboyne Castle Maiden Hurdle which opened the marathon card in Fairyhouse.
The French import, off the track since 2019, made all, jumped fluently and readily brushed aside the challenge of market rival Harmundarson between the last two flights before scoring by seven lengths.
“We’ve been a long time trying to get him to the track,” acknowledged Townend. “But he’s a nice horse, deadly to jump, and his experience (in France) stood to him. He was a bit fresh early, which was understandable after such a long break, and was very professional. We’ll see what Willie has planned for him now.”
The Gavin Cromwell-trained Five Helmets, ridden by stable-jockey Jonathan Moore, landed a tidy gamble (8/1 to 4/1) in the second division of this two-miler, getting the better of 100/1 shot Tech Talk by a length.
Cromwell explained: “I don’t know if his jumping will ever click, but we’ve a world of schooling with him. It was a bad race, but it’s nice that he got his head in front. I suppose he’ll go handicapping now.”
Both divisions of the Fairyhouse Easter Gift Box Mares Maiden Hurdle, over two and a half miles, went to the favourite, Daphne Moon justifying 5/6 favouritism in the first division to spark a double for Gordon Elliott, but only after a protracted duel with Robyndeglory (whose rider Declan Queally received a one-day whip ban), scoring by a neck.
“We were hoping she’d win after her last run here,” said Kennedy. “She jumped and travelled well and, in fairness to her she dug deep when I needed her. She missed the third last but was very good at the last two, which was probably the winning of it. She’s tough and will stay further.”
The Elliott double was completed when Old Town Garde, a ‘point’ winner and promising on his racecourse debut in Naas, justified 4/6 favouritism in the second division of the Fairyhouse Website Maiden Hurdle, taking command at the second last before holding off stable-companion The Greek by three-quarters of a length. The Robin Des Champs gelding carries the colours of his trainer. Kennedy said: “I was a bit let down by his jumping in the second half of the race. Other than that, it was straight-forward. I was delighted with him and he’s still a bit raw and should improve plenty.”
Fitted with first time cheekpieces, Liz Doyle’s Ciao Bella (11/8 favourite) bounced back from a disappointing run in Limerick last time to land the second division of the mares’ race, staying on for Sean Flanagan to beat Jacks Touch by three lengths.
Trainer Doyle stated: “It was a good opportunity for her. She’s straight-forward and it’s great to win the mares bonus with her. She’s not quick, so she might improve over three miles. She’ll go chasing next year.”
On a card which produced a few shocks, 80/1 shot The Brimming Water, representing the father and son combination of Eric and Conor McNamara, provided the biggest ‘result’ in the first division of the Fairyhouse Website Maiden Hurdle.
The Yeats gelding came through strongly between horses in the closing stages to get the better of Gaulois and Pepper’n Salt, prompting Eric Mc Namara to comment: “That was a pleasant surprise. He showed us plenty in his early days but lost his way. His recent work suggested he was on the way back and it’s great that he’s gone and won.”
“I think he’ll be better on better ground, so we should have some fun with him for the summer.”