Tony Martin dominated proceedings at Navan yesterday, with Flemenstar’s second successive Boylesports.com Fortria Chase triumph the highlight of a treble for the County Meath trainer.
Having his first start for Martin since leaving Peter Casey, Flemenstar was sent off the 1-4 favourite against just three rivals.
The end of last season was hardly satisfactory for one of Ireland’s star chasers as he was asked to stretch his stamina over three miles.
He was then put in his place by Sprinter Sacre when he was a sick horse at Aintree and subsequently underwent a breathing operation.
Flemenstar had a few questions to answer upon his return and his jumping did not please everybody as the eight-year-old gave his fences far too much air.
But having seen off Realt Mor early in the straight, he just had to be shaken up by Andrew Lynch to hold off the rallying Days Hotel by a length and a quarter.
Martin said: “He was a bit extravagant – his jumping was a bit big. He let fly at a few down the back but I’m hoping that was freshness. We’ll take our time with him. I’ll have a chat with Andy (Lynch) and Steve (Curran, owner).
“He’s entered in everything but I’ll give it two or three weeks to decide where next.
“I’m still finding my feet with him really. I’m happy that’s out of the way. With good horses like that you are always nervous and he’ll improve a bit fitness-wise.
“He was idling a bit in front.”
Martin also won one of the other feature races, the Boylesports.com Download Our App Lismullen Hurdle, with Dedigout.
Davy Russell, who was originally supposed to be on the non-runner Rule The World, sat some way off a decent pace and was only fourth turning into the straight.
Mala Beach hit the front at the second last but Dedigout (9-2) swept past him to win going away by a length and three-quarters.
The winner holds an entry in the Hennessy Gold Cup and was cut to 14-1 from 20s for the Newbury event by BetVictor. Martin said “That’s his ground. He leaped brilliant. He won well last year in his first race then lost his confidence.”
Robbie Colgan was on Mala Beach but then teamed up with Martin to win the St Johann Ski Resort Tirol Austria Handicap Hurdle on Spacious Sky (10-1).
Trainer Eddie Harty will have been disappointed that Captain Cee Bee failed to add to his tally in the Lismullen, but in Minella Foru (11-8) he appears to have a ready-made replacement for his stable star after he won the Boylesports.com Quick Bet Racing ’For Auction’ Novice Hurdle.
It was billed as a match with Noel Meade’s Very Wood and Russell attempted to make all of the running on that one, albeit at a pedestrian pace, which did not help his jumping as he consistently went out to his right.
Eventually the pace quickened three from home and the Tony McCoy-ridden Minella Foru had far too much speed, winning by a length and a half.
McCoy, who secured 4,000 victories over jumps at Towcester on Thursday, was given a rousing reception upon his return to the Navan winner’s enclosure.
He said: “It’s all a bit embarrassing, to be honest.
“I’m just trying to get on with my job now and I’m trying to ride another 998 winners and then I can have another day!
“He’s a smart horse but it was a messy race and turned into a bit of a sprint, the second is a smart horse too and it won’t have suited him either.”
Harty said: “Hopefully there is more to come with this horse. We will look for something next month at Fairyhouse or Leopardstown at Christmas.
“We will stay at two miles for now, but having won his point-to-point we can go further.”
It may be asking a bit much to emulate the exploits of last year’s winner of the Follow Navan Racecourse On Facebook 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle, but Gerdago nonetheless looks an above-average sort.
Dessie Hughes’ Our Conor blitzed his rivals in this 12 months ago and while Gerdago (3-1) did not leave the same lasting impression, Ken Condon’s three-year-old is improving with racing.
Condon said of the Eddie O’Connell-ridden winner: “We had been thinking of the Fred Winter at Cheltenham in March for him but we might go for a Graded race at Fairyhouse in December first and see how he gets on.
O’Connell later benefited from the final-fence fall of Some Tikket in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase on Tom Cooper’s The Shepherd King (16-1). Cooper’s son, Bryan, was on Some Tikket.
Pint Of Porter then caused an almighty stir in the Boylesports.com Fon-A-Bet To 1800 44 00 00 Handicap Hurdle when he struck at odds of 33-1.
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