Jockeys Jack Kennedy and Bryan Cooper registered significant successes in sun-drenched Ballinrobe last night.
Kennedy, who celebrated his 17th birthday last month, rode out his claim when winning the opening maiden hurdle on Norman Lee’s Troublesomebrothers, while Cooper enjoyed a comfortable win on odds-on favourite Tocororo in the Mulberry restaurant @ Breaffy Hurdle, his last ride ahead of surgery on his leg this morning.
Kennedy had a straight-forward task on Troublesombrothers, tracking front-running Miss Benefitz before easing to the front around the final bend for a convincing, six-and-a-half lengths win.
Trainer Norman Lee said: “He’s a grand horse, but has had his problems; he’s a late starter, but a decent horse. I made a mistake the last day, trying him over two-and-a-half miles, but he was in mighty form coming here and the drop back to two miles was ideal for him. He jumps fences well and will go for a two-mile beginners.”
Bryan Cooper had an armchair ride on 4/9 favourite Tocororo, tracking his stable-companion Buyer Beware before taking command on the approach to the final flight, where both the latter and Boom Box exited, leaving the Gigginstown-owned filly to triumph by seventy-five lengths.
Cooper said: “I couldn’t have it any easier on her... I’m having an operation in the morning to remove a pin from my leg. I hope to be back in action before the end of June.”
Winning trainer Gordon Elliott said:
“It’s nice for Bryan to sign off on a winner before his operation. The filly won well and the plan is to go jumping fences with her. She’ll be getting the mare’s allowance and a four-year-old allowance and Bryan feels she might win a good handicap hurdle at some stage.”
Tom Gibney saddled top-weight The Nutcracker to repeat last year’s success in the €30,000 Breaffy House Resort Mares Handicap Hurdle.
Ridden by Mark Flanagan, the six-year-old took the lead, travelling well, between the last two flights before holding the late challenge of hat-trick-seeking Isabella Liberty by a half-length.
Gibney said: “We had this race in mind for a good while, so I’m thrilled. She has settled and improved and is a grand mare. She loves hurdles, so she’ll stay over them for the moment and we always have the option of going back to the flat.”
The Willie Mullins-trained 2/5 favourite Glens Harmony, a full-sister to Glens Melody, oozed class in the mares bumper, edging ahead for Patrick Mullins (put up 2lb overweight) with more than two furlongs to race, before powering clear to win impressively by 13 lengths from Bridge Native.
Hurricane Ben, winner of recent hunter-chases in Tramore and Tipperary, made a successful transition to handicap company (off an initial mark of 118) when proving an emphatic winner of the Events Arena @ Breaffy Handicap Chase for Barry Geraghty (deputising for Davy Russell).
Jack Kennedy enjoyed little luck on top-weight and favourite Urtheoneiwant in the Spa @ Breaffy Handicap Hurdle, being denied a clear run from the second last, before being awkward at the last and having to settle for second spot, beaten a neck by Reafadda (Danny Mullins) which, according to trainer John Ryan, might reappear over fences in Punchestown tomorrow.
Having belatedly opened his account at Clonmel, the Pay Flynn-trained Dixie Highway followed-up for Mark Enright in the Leisure Club @ Breaffy Handicap Hurdle, defying top-weight and holding Urban Vic by a neck.
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