The progressive Willie Mullins-trained Arvika Ligeonniere was far too good for his five rivals in the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase at Clonmel yesterday.
The imposing eight-year-old jumped really, for the most part, although giving the fifth fence a fair old belt.
Ruby Walsh was in the plate and he allowed his charge to coast into the lead off the home turn.
The challengers were soon lining up behind, but Arvika Ligeonniere was full of running, winged the last two fences and strode away on the flat to beat Texas Jack by three and a half lengths.
“I’m very happy with that, I thought the track here might be too small for him,” reported Mullins.
“I’m not sure what will be next, but I doubt it will be the Durkan (Punchestown). We have Sir Des Champs for that.
“Given his homework, I’d say there will be plenty of improvement to come. I know he is better going right-handed, but that won’t stop me entering him in races that are left-handed. Looking at him today, I think he might stay beyond two and a half miles.”
Eric McNamara’s decision to turn out Questions Answered, just four days after he won at Limerick, hit the jackpot when the heavily backed favourite did the business, under Rob Jones, in the Clonmel Oil Service Station Handicap Hurdle.
He cantered ahead off the home turn, with Jones able to afford a nonchalant glance behind.
But it soon became hard work for the winner and he was hard driven from the last to hold Supreme Carolina by half a length.
“He’s a smashing horse, it is great when it works out,” remarked McNamara. “Where he goes now, I don’t know, maybe it will be the Paddy Power at Leopardstown at Christmas. If I had another half a dozen like him people would think I’m a genius!”
The hitherto frustrating The Job Is Right got an inspired drive from Barry Geraghty to take the INH Stallion Owners’ EBF Maiden Hurdle.
Geraghty sent him about his business going to the fourth last and the five-year-old found plenty from the final flight to hold Unic de Bersy.
“He should have won before now and may run again at Thurles next Thursday in a winners’ of one,” said trainer, Michael Hourigan.
“He jumps fences better than hurdles and the plan is the four-mile at Cheltenham.”
Davy Russell, who rode Unic de Bersy, was found guilty of careless riding and suspended for two days.
The Job Is Right is owned by Jim and Mary Devine, who donated the first prize of €7,245 to John Thomas McNamara.
Another frustrating sort, Go Paddy Go, trained at Nenagh, Co Tipperary by James Grace, justified favouritism in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.
Capably handled by Martin Burke, he edged ahead off the home turn and was far too good for Famous Ballerina, scoring by over three lengths. “It’s great to get a winner, I thought it would never come (for this horse),” said Grace.
The layers got a badly needed result when 16-1 shot Ballinahow Lady, partnered by John Cullen for Piltown, Co Kilkenny trainer, David O’Brien, took the Grade 3 EBF T.A. Morris Memorial Mares’ Chase.
Powerfully handled by Cullen, the daughter of Benefical rallied in fine style in the straight to beat Backinthere and Avondhu Lady.
Said O’Brien: “She seems to be stronger this season. I hope to get as much as I can out of her, because she is likely to go the paddocks next spring.”
Rubert, out of his depth behind Flemenstar at Navan on Sunday, found the opposition a lot more to his liking when taking the Prior Park Service Station Clonmel Handicap Chase.
Always prominent, under Robbie Power, he kept finding in the straight to beat New Phase comfortably.
“He was second in a two mile and one handicap at Leopardstown last Christmas and will go straight back there now,” said trainer, Denis Cullen.
Massini’s Brook, trained at Rathangan, Co Kildare by Noel Lawlor and ridden by Sonny Carey, made most of the running to beat market leader, Flaming Dawn, in the Bumper.
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