A Willie Mullins treble on Monday in Killarney included the featured Tote Killarney National Handicap Chase with the progressive Recite A Prayer, who carries the colours of John Turner and family.
A winner at Tramore on his chasing debut in October, he added a second at Wexford in April and posted a career-best effort when chasing home Donkey Years at the Punchestown festival. That run put him on a career-high 132 but he proved up to the mark with a doughty performance this time.
The ever-so-game Darrens Hope made a bold bid from the front but had her heart broken by the late effort of Recite A Prayer, who responded generously to Danny Mullins’ efforts to lead on the run-in. Last year’s winner, Shady Operator, kept going to take the third spot.
“That was good,” said the winning rider. “He missed the last at Punchestown which might have been the difference of the race but learned from that and jumped the last well today, which sealed it.
“He has progressed nicely through the winter to get up to this level and hopefully he can continue to do so. He is looking well and doing all the right things at home. He stays quite well but is getting sharper all the time and it was a good pot to win today.”
Only five went to the tapes for the Tote Sliabh Luachra Hurdle but it proved to be quite a competitive and quite a rough race, from which odds-on favourite Shewearsitwell emerged the winner. The lightly-raced seven-year-old, ridden by Paul Townend, has had her problems but her talent remains and, showing determination to match her ability, she quickened up close home to see off Off You Go.
Mullins saddled the first two home in the Grade Three Boylesports An Riocht Chase, and it was Easy Game who asserted late to get the better of favourite Melon. The latter was in front early and held sway most of the way, but the eventual winner, patiently ridden by Brian Hayes, moved up going well three out and found for pressure to see off his game stablemate.
There was an exciting finish to the opener, the Broderick Plumbing Maiden Hurdle, in which Auckland got up in the final strides to land the spoils for Tony and Danny Mullins. The Folkes Tiara looked to have matters in hand when skipping across the last, but the winner picked up smartly to collar her in the final stride.
Would-be long-odds-on favourite La Prima Donna was a significant absentee from the Cronin Electrical Mares’ Maiden Hurdle, leaving a much more open contest which was won in quite comfortable fashion by the Sean O’Brien-trained and Mark McDonagh-ridden Rockanrye. A winner of two point to points, the hurdling debutant was well backed, and justified the support with a fine effort.
“She did it very well,” said O’Brien. “I fancied her coming here because her run in Cork was a good run. She just wasn’t a bumper mare but ran very well that day. The ground was a bit dead in Cork, and a bit of nicer ground here today and with a trip in front of her and hurdles, she did it very well.
“She’ll be kept going for the summer as that’s what she was sent to me for. Ciaran Fennessy won two point-to-points with her, and she came to me in great shape, and he just said that the people who own her wanted a summer mare, and they’d love to go to Killarney. The plan came off, though it doesn’t often work out like that.”
Owner JP McManus added to Sunday’s double with the victory of Stand Up And Fight in the Michael Linehan Heart Safe Charity Hunters’ Chase. It was quite straightforward for Aine O’Connor, aboard the Enda Bolger-trained favourite, as she made virtually all the running and eased clear in the closing stages for a facile success from Na Trachtalai Abu.
The PitchSupplies.ie Bumper brought the National Hunt section of the May meeting to a close and Sam Curling saddled the winner of the race for the third time in the last five runnings. Newcomer Troubled Times, ridden by Pa King, took up the running turning for home and ran on strongly to win with a little in hand.