ALAIVAN is a best-priced 8/1 favourite for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in the wake of his impressive hurdle debut victory at Gowran Park yesterday.
The first leg of a sparkling 51/1 treble for Andrew McNamara, the Edward O’Grady-trained Kalanisi gelding was sent off a red-hot 1/3 favourite for the Fancy A Festive Flutter 3-Y-0 Hurdle and, always close to the pace, strode clear in the closing stages to slam Leblon by fifteen lengths, despite looking around a bit on the approach to the final flight.
A listed winner on the flat when trained by John Oxx, Alaivan has clearly taken well to his new role, as trainer O’Grady explained: “He had done plenty of schooling at home, which went well, but you never know until they come to the track. I’m very pleased with that performance.
“He’s not the finished article yet, but he’s going the right way. It’s a case of onwards and upwards with him now. He’ll go for the Grade 1 at Leopardstown on St. Stephen’s Day.”
McNamara followed-up when locally-trained Luska Lad, disappointing last time at Thurles, returned to winning form in the Chia Booster Novice Hurdle. Winner of four bumpers for John ‘Shark’ Hanlon, easy-to-back Luska Lad made all and stayed on stoutly to beat Gallant Light with the winner’s well-backed stable-companion Western Leader back in third spot.
Hanlon commented: “He disappointed me at Thurles. But that was the only bad run of his life. He was an unbelievable price today and won well.
“Andrew said he was enjoying himself in front and he’ll go for the ‘Grade 1’ novice at Leopardstown now.”
The Limerick man rounded off another tremendous day when partnering Cheeky, successful in a point-to-point in Ballindenisk only last Sunday, to victory in the stamina-sapping Gowran Park Racing Club 2010 Maiden Hurdle.
The five-year-old, trained by Margaret O’Sullivan, was in command when untidy at the final flight, but stayed on well to beat gambled-on favourite Hughies Grey by nine lengths.
On a mixed day for odds-on punters, both Alice Bradys Call and the Willie Mullins-trained bumper debutant Bold Banks proved costly failures.
Having come from well off the pace under Mark Doran, 4/7 shot Alice Bradys Call had every chance when flattening the second last obstacle in the Santa’s Little Helper Maiden Hurdle. Soon ridden, he never looked likely to get to grips with shock winner King Of Ardcarne.
Returning after a ten month break and having his first run since joining Frank Ennis from Arthur Moore’s, 25/1 shot King Of Ardcarne appeared to relish the testing conditions and scored emphatically by five and a half lengths in the hands of Ian McCarthy.
A delighted Ennis commented: “I thought he’d need the run today. But he stays well and loves that ground. He should improve and will probably step up in trip.”
Gordon Elliott, in Cheltenham to saddle Silver Birch, missed seeing French import Roi Du Mee make a successful Irish debut in the Christmas Vouchers At Gowran Park Golf Shop Maiden Hurdle.
Davy Russell, carrying the colours of Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud, had the 12/1 shot in front running for home and he kept going well to bet Oscar Close by four lengths, with the disappointing favourite The Kings Sword third.
Morning gamble Roi Tuscan (Tommy Ryan) crashed at the fourth flight in this event. But his trainer Tom Foley enjoyed better luck later when knights Realm upset odds-on ‘jolly’ Bold Banks in the bumper.
Runner-up to Cadspeed in the corresponding race last year, Knights Realm edged ahead before the straight in a slowly-run affair and, although pressed by the favourite through the final quarter mile, always enjoyed the edge and scored by a half-length.
Charles Byrnes saddled Kot’s Terry to make a successful handicap debut in the Irish Racing Yearbook Mares Handicap Hurdle, the Pierce Gallagher-ridden daughter of Portrait Gallery keeping the well-backed Dolly’s Hall at bay by little more than a length.
Byrnes commented: “She’s exposed, but it was her first handicap and riding her closer to the pace made a difference. She’ll go for another handicap at Limerick over Christmas.”
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