Paul Carberry has really taken a liking to Ballinrobe this year and, having completed a superb treble at the Co. Mayo venue four weeks ago, again took the riding honours last night, completing an early double on Usa and Mickelson.
The Tom Hogan-trained Flycorn and John ‘Shark’ Hanlon’s Clondaw Warrior dominated the market for the two-mile Irish Stallion Farms Hurdle, but both horses disappointed as Carberry was seen at his tactical best on the Noel Meade-trained Mickelson.
The former champion dictated the pace, being headed only briefly by the free-running favourite Flycorn at the fifth, and gradually increased the tempo from the second last, edging clear before the home-turn before beating longshot Empire Theatre by almost five lengths.
Carberry commented: “He doesn’t like being annoyed by other horses and we got an easy lead. He enjoyed himself and there was plenty left in the tank.”
Runner-up to Bank The Bucks in a handicap here on Monday, Usa went one better when landing a gamble (7/1 to 9/2) in the opening Connacht Telegraph Maiden Hurdle, initiating Carberry’s double by getting the better of uneasy odds-on favourite Jim Jim Mac Cool by a head.
Usa was a first winner since last August for trainer Steve Mahon, who is now based in Kilcolgan, Co. Galway and declared afterwards: “I’m back!”
Having registered a double here on Monday evening, Davy Russell, out of luck on Jim Jim Mac Cool earlier, struck again when Absolutlyfantastic, in the famous colours of Alan and Ann Potts, justified 9/10 favouritism in the Irish Stallion Farms Beginners Chase.
The Alhaarth gelding, third to His Excellency on his chasing debut in Killarney, confirmed his superiority over The Bull Hayes (fourth in Killarney) making all and producing a display of spectacular jumping, with the exception of unity leaps at the the third last and final obstacles.
Clear when awkward at the last, Absolutlyfantastic was eased by Russell on the run-in to triumph by a length and a quarter from The Bull Hayes, which had made a costly blunder at the third last when chasing the winner.
Curragh-based Brendan Duke savoured the success of 14/1 shot Mister Benedectine (a four-timer winner for the trainer when he was based in England) in the Sheridan Electrical Castlebar Handicap Hurdle.
Ridden by David Crosse, the nine-year-old raced close to the pace throughout before stretching clear between the last two flights to beat favourite The Grey Express by six lengths.
An ebullient Duke explained: “I had him in England, before he went to Paul Nolan last year. I persuaded my brother to buy him and told him I’d win with him first time out. If he’s okay, we’ll run him again in Kilbeggan on Sunday.”
Race-sponsor J P McManus had his colours carried to victory by the Charlie Swan-trained 11/1 shot Jewel In The Sun in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase, Brian Cawley’s mount being left clear when his nearest pursuer Stonesinmypocket (also owned by McManus) crashed at the final fence.
“That was a wonderful ride,” stated trainer Pat Martin after Jason McKeown brought Rising Euro fast and late to claim the Bumper. “We decided to take our time with him today and Jason timed it to perfection,” added the trainer, enthusiastic in his praise for McKeown, who lost his 3lb. claim with this success,
Rising Euro pounced close home to foil Native Son, on which Robbie McNamara had oozed confidence before hitting the front inside the final furlong, before being caught late.
Martin added: “This horse is a half-brother to Our Nana Rose. So the family knows where the winning-post is. He’s not very big and is more of a flat horse. He won’t go for a winners’ bumper — he’ll run on the flat now.”
* Born To Sea is set to tackle the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot following his eyecatching performance in Saturday’s Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.
The three-year-old half-brother to the brilliant Sea The Stars was among the leading fancies for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier this month, but was beaten at halfway having pulled fiercely in the early stages.
Trainer John Oxx decided to fit the colt with a hood for the Irish equivalent last weekend and while it had the desired effect as Born To Sea settled much better, he ended up a long way back before flying home to finish fifth.
“As things worked out he was a bit too far back, but I think there are more positives than negatives to take from the race and we’ll look towards the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot next,” said Oxx.
“We know now that he stays a mile well and might even get a bit further. I think he’s learning all the time and hopefully things work out a bit better for him at Ascot.”
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