The eagerly-awaited clash between Rebel Fitz and Beachdale Lad in the Christy McSweeney Memorial Novice Chase at Killarney last night had a tragic outcome.
Beachdale Lad, ordinarily a brilliant jumper, powered down to the fourth last fence with about a four lengths advantage over Rebel Fitz.
But Jessica Harrington’s charge stepped right into the obstacle, broke a leg and had to be put down.
Rebel Fitz, travelling strongly at the time in any case, was left in front and then cruised clear for Barry Geraghty to beat Churchfield Champ by 15 lengths.
Winning trainer, Michael Winters, said: “Barry was happy with the horse, but not over the moon. He’s a super jumper, is coming to himself and could turn inside out in a week. We will keep our options open for Galway, it could be the Plate or a novice chase.”
Commented Geraghty: “He is racing much more lazily than he did over hurdles. The other horse (Beachdale Lad) wasn’t done, but I fancied my chances.”
Willie Mullins’ Digeanta kept his unbeaten record, it is now four from four, with a game success in the Killarney Veterinary Clinic Race.
Mullins also ran the hot pot, Midnight Oil, but Digeanta beat that one by a nose, with Aidan O’Brien’s Marchese Marconi just a neck away in third.
Digeanta was under strong driving up the straight from Mikey Fogarty, but kept finding to lead in the final stride.
Said Fogarty: “I’m delighted to have got the ride. Patrick (Mullins) has been on holidays and is home today, so that’s probably the end of it.
“He is a very tough horse, all he does is gallop. He’s improved with every run, loves that ground and will make a grand hurdler.”
Fogarty, however, was found guilty of using his whip with excessive frequency and suspended for four days.
Katie Walsh, who rode Midnight Oil, and Sarah O’Brien (Marchese Marconi) were also found guilty of the same offence. Walsh got a day, while O’Brien escaped with a caution.
Connor King gave further evidence of his burgeoning talent when pouncing late aboard Jessica Harrington’s Royal Blue Star to take the Ross Golf Course Race.
The winner, who is in foal to Dream Ahead, had plenty to do in fifth spot approaching the furlong pole. But, once King switched the five-year-old to challenge, Royal Blue Star quickened in style and was a comfortable two lengths to the good at the line.
“He gave her a super ride’, said Harrington. “I think I have her until Galway and she will have to go there. I have no idea what she might run in, although I’d love it to be the fillies Listed race.”
The Tony Martin-trained Dark Crusader, partnered by Fran Berry, won the Easy Clean Handicap with a lot in hand.
He was taken at 10-1 in the morning, but was very light on track, returned at 6-1.
In any case, Dark Crusader was cantering all over this lot up the straight and Berry only had to nudge him out to score by an unflattering three and threequarter lengths. You’d imagine, he will face a hefty hike in the weights after this.
Aidan O’Brien’s Il Palazzo, an uneasy favourite, refused to load in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Maiden and that made it much easier for Dermot Weld’s Cocktail Hour to finally get off the mark at the ninth attempt.
In an ordinary contest, she was content to take a lead from Sister Slew, until Pat Smullen pushed her ahead over a furlong down to easily beat Danseur De Feu.
Boxer Beat, far from neglected in the market, swept ahead coming away from two out for Keith Donoghue to easily win the MC Group Handicap Chase.
The Malton Handicap Hurdle went to Paul Nolan’s Rising Altitude, who beat fast finishing Kinneagh Cross by a short head. It was a second winner for Rising Altitude’s rider, Conor Walsh.
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