Camelia De Cotte emerged as the shortest-priced runner at a well-attended meeting at Tramore, winning the opening tramoreracecourse.com Mares’ Maiden Hurdle in the manner expected of a 1-5 chance.
The Willie Mullins-trained mare was sent on racing into the back straight for the second time and, after Blazes Peg closed the gap on the turn for home, she quickened away again for a bloodless victory.
Of the winner, now as short as 5-1 for the Mares’ Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, winning rider Ruby Walsh said: “I’d say she’s not too bad. She has been a bit keen at home, so we didn’t know how she’d react on the track, but she settled relatively well, and jumped well.
“She obviously has one run in France under her belt. It wasn’t the strongest race on paper, but it read like she stayed on that day. I was aware there was someone behind us going to the second-last, but when I pulled up I seemed to have won a long way.
“I definitely could hear someone behind me going to the second-last, and that’s why I let out a bit of rein and went on about my business, but I’d say it was a helluva good performance. Not many take that much pulling up on quick ground at Tramore, let alone heavy. She did it well, and I’m sure Willie will be happy.”
Eoin Doyle inevitably does well at this venue, and was on the mark this time with Ardera Cross, in the two-mile handicap hurdle. Brought with a well-timed run by Brian O’Connell, he collared Adreamstillalive in the dying strides, with Flahertys Gap a fast-finishing third.
“That was great, and badly wanted after a barren spell,” said Doyle. “Brian [O’Connell, jockey] said he never travelled, but he’s still very green and he battled well. He was fit and well, had a good run the last day and, once Brian switched him outside, he picked up well.
“He had a good tough race, and was not in love with that real deep ground, but we might look to come back here on New Year’s Day.”
Dungarvan trainer John Kiely is another who does well at his local track, and Brave Out built on the promise of his two previous outings when running on strongly to take the two-mile-five maiden hurdle.
Winning rider Denis O’Regan said: “John said, ‘sure, you’ll find your way around’, as I was telling him before the race that my last winner here was for David Kiely, so it was quite a while ago.
“The horse did it well enough in the end. He jumped well through the race, but is still green and still learning. They went a nice gallop, and the ground suited him, being by Beneficial. He just seemed to appreciate this step up in trip.”
Yet another trainer who does well here is Liz Doyle, and her Sea Scorpion ran out a good winner of the Waterford & Tramore Supporters’ Club Handicap Hurdle. The 7-2 favourite travelled particularly well in the deep ground, was last to come off the bridle, and then responded to Sean Flanagan’s urgings to readily account for Supreme Steel and Let Her Cry.
The Christy Roche-trained The Living Beauty landed some nice touches when getting up in the dying strides to take the two-mile-five Beginners’ Chase. Available at 14-1 in the morning and 7-1 on the show, she returned 5-1 when, under a strong ride by Mark Walsh, she pipped Cahirconree, with Call Vinnie a close third.
Fluspar had little trouble making the most of a chasing handicap mark 20lb lower than that held by him over hurdles when justifying heavy support in the Waterford & Tramore Directors Handicap Chase. Backed from 9-2 overnight to a starting price of 2-1, he raced wide throughout, all but pulled his way to the front going to the second-last, and quickened clear under a confident Danny Mullins.
“I’ve ridden him a few times and the best he did over hurdles was when kept wide,” said Mullins. “He likes a bit of space, but there were a couple of others racing wide and I didn’t want to get caught too far wide.
“He was always going well but I was conscious not to go too soon. It was a case of filling up the tank and not running out of fuel late on.”
The John Nicholson-trained Ask Susan ran-up behind a couple of well-regarded Willie Mullins-trained hurdlers on her most recent starts, but a drop back to a bumper and the absence of any Closutton rivals resulted in a well-deserved change of luck, in the concluding race. Laura Hourigan sent the 10-3 chance to the front on the final bend and she found plenty to repel a strong challenge from Mr Showtime.
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