Ruby Walsh had an armchair ride on his only mount at Thurles yesterday - the long absent Isleofhopendreams which coasted to a smooth odds-on success in the Killinan Handicap Hurdle.
Formerly trained in England by Henrietta Knight, the seven-year-old, now in the care of champion trainer Willie Mullins, was racing for the first time since April 2012 and came from off the pace under a confident ride to readily brush aside the challenge of West Of The Edge, which he beat by ten lengths
Walsh, back from a flying visit to London and whose only other booked ride Chute Hall was a non-runner, commented: “He settled and travelled well and coped with the ground better than the others. They went quick enough for that grade of horse and I took my time.”
Talented claimer Jody McGarvey was seen to good effect when landing the featured Irish Stallion Farms Mares Novice Chase on Lisrose, a first winner for trainer Alice Curran, from Two-Mile-Bridge, near Dungarvan.
McGarvey produced the 16/1 shot with a well-timed challenge between the last two fences to master odds-on favourite Caoimhes Delight by a length and quarter.
Her delighted trainer explained: “I only have the licence since Christmas and this was the plan. We got her at the end of last summer and she won a point-to-point before Christmas. She’ll probably go to Limerick now for the Grade 2 mares race (Dawn Run Mares Novice Chase on March 16).”
Champion-jockey Davy Russell was seen at his strongest in the opening thurles.ie Maiden Hurdle, partnering 2/1 favourite Asitsohappens to a gutsy and deserved half-length win over marker rival Macnicholson.
Having made most of the running, Russell was hard at work turning for home and, after both Lipinski and the runner-up flattered, Asitsohappens dug deep, regained the advantage before the final flight and stayed on dourly to triumph for County Wexford handler Moses McCabe and the County Sligo-based Each Way Syndicate.
The Harry Kelly-trained On Impulse built on his promising debut run at Fairyhouse when justifying favouritism in the bumper, Pa King’s mount travelling well before getting the better of For Freddie before Golan Dancer swooped to snatch second spot.
“He had a good first run. We thought he’d improve and he did,” was Kelly’s summing-up of the performance. “My brother Jimmy deserves a lot of the credit — this horse was big and weak and needed time. He’s has done a lot of work with him. He’s unreal to jump and we’ve always felt that anything he’d do in bumpers would be a bonus. He’s for sale!”
Willie Treacy, who trains just three horses in Fethard, was on the mark when Fethard Player captured the Cashel Maiden Hurdle, Robbie Moran’s mount outstaying Hackets Folly by two lengths to the delight of his trainer, who commented: “I was afraid of the ground, but it’s grand when it works out.”
Treacy added: “He does a bit too much sometimes and tends to boil over, so the hood helps him. He wants better ground and, although he’s not very big, he jumps well and could go chasing in time.”
Paddy Mangan got the Oliver McKiernan-trained Another Challenge home a narrow winner from the fast-finishing Mini Vic in the Littleton Handicap Hurdle while Robert Tyner and Philip Enright combined to take the Rock Of Cashel Handicap Chase with the Oscar mare Knock Beauty, which kept flattering favourite See Double You at bay by three lengths.
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