After proving a class apart from his rivals in making a winning debut for new connections in the featured Grade Three Surehaul Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle in very testing conditions at Powerstown Park, Chris’s Dream earned his ticket to next month’s Cheltenham Festival for a tilt at the Albert Bartlett.
Making his debut for Henry De Bromhead, having won a point-to-point and a maiden hurdle for Eugene O’Sullivan, the six-year-old popped out in front, set a good gallop and never once looked like relinquishing his lead under Mark Walsh.
As the others cried enough in the very heavy ground, he comfortably lengthened his advantage all the way to beat the running-on 100-1 chance Carrigeen Acebo by 64 lengths.
“That was really, really good, and a super ride from Mark,” said De Bromhead. “I’m just delighted. He stayed well, and Mark said he was just hacking away there and seemed to burn them off. He seemed to go through the ground really well.
“In fairness, (before buying him) we asked Mark his opinion on him, as he had won his maiden hurdle on him in Limerick, and he recommended the horse, as did Eugene.”
Looking ahead, De Bromhead added: “We’re in the Albert Bartlett, and I think he’s entitled to go after that performance. I suppose Mahler’s might have a better record on softer ground but he’s a nice light-moving horse, so I’d imagine we’ll give it a go. It goes without saying, he’s a real chaser in the making.”
A late push for Countess Cathleen proved well-founded when she won the opening race, the Surehaul Race Day Mares’ Maiden Hurdle, for trainer Denis Hickey and jockey Jonathan Moore.
Tell Me Annie, who had been well backed in the overnight market and in the morning, took it up coming down the hill for the second time, but the winner soon loomed large and, despite a mistake at the second-last, battled on gamely for a narrow success.
Great Khan gained overdue reward for his consistency when proving too good for the gambled-on Giant Spirit in the Derrygrath Maiden Hurdle.
Trained by Edward O’Grady and confidently ridden by Philip Enright, the 9-2 chance found plenty when challenged by the 9-10 favourite, who had been backed from an overnight high of 9-4.
“He had been placed eight times in his 10 races, so was entitled to win one,” said O’Grady.
“Philip came in the last day and said he would have won at two miles, so we said we’d give him a chance back at this trip, and he was proved right. This was Philip’s first winner for me. We might run the horse in a winners’ race, before going chasing.”
Winning rider Enright completed a double with another well-timed ride, aboard the Robert Tyner-trained Spare Brakes in the Sporting Press Handicap Chase.
Favourite All The Chimneys travelled strongly near the front end and looked to have long-time leader Minsdmadeup covered as they jumped the second-last. But Enright had both in his sights all the way, sent his mount to the front at the last and rode him out to win a shade comfortably.
Tyner said: “He did it nicely, although it wasn’t the strongest of races. I’ll look for another handicap chase next.”
Sunset Sadie caused the biggest upset of the afternoon when taking the Minorstown Handicap Hurdle for Eamonn and Eoin O’Connell.
The two fences in the straight were omitted for the MicrodogID Beginners’ Chase but it made not a jot of difference to Freeway Space, who ran out a very easy winner under JJ Slevin.
Winning trainer David O’Brien said: “It’s all thanks to Jamie (Codd). He rode her in Limerick and said she jumped the third-last and seemed to choke up on him, so we got her palate fired and it seems to have made all the difference.
“She’s in on Thursday, in the mares’ novice chase. We’ll see if there’s not too many declared and if she’s alright we might let her take her chance. I know the ground is testing out there, but I don’t think she had an over-hard race.”
The fences in the straight were also omitted for the finale, the Ballydine Beginners’ Chase, in which market principals Augustin and Fire In His Eyes had a great buckle inside the final two furlongs, with the former, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by David Mullins, doing enough to justify odds of 1-2.
Winning owner Luke McMahon said: “He is what he is but he’s paying his way at the moment, and where he goes next is up to the boss. He could be an Eider Chase horse down the line, or maybe one for the Thyestes.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved