JIMMY MANGAN struck for the first time at the Festival when Next Week dug deep to beat Pires in the South West Bins Novice Hurdle at Listowel yesterday.
Given a powerful drive by Andrew McNamara, Next Week made a lot of the running and went to the final flight looking certain to score.
But he fluffed his lines, landing awkwardly and had to be galvanised by his pilot as Pires, who wasn’t overly clever at the previous obstacle, was suddenly in with a chance again.
Ruby Walsh threw everything at Pires, but McNamara simply would not accept defeat and he drove Next Week for all he was worth to hold on by a head.
Commented Mangan: “The ground was perfect for him, but you won’t see the best of this horse until he goes over fences.
“Two miles is way too short and Andrew agrees. He will stay hurdling for the season and will be campaigned over longer distances.
“You will see him again soon, but he doesn’t want soft ground and will have the winter off and come back in the spring.”
Bookmakers, reeling from a series of reverses all week, were down for a count following the Listowel Printing Works Maiden.
Dermot Weld’s Galileo’s Choice, gelded since finishing second to Aristcrat at Wexford in May, was a huge punt.
Freely available at 2-1 in the morning, much appreciated, he was taken from evens to 8-11 on track. Galileo’s Choice won doing handstands, shooting clear early in the straight to beat Hildor by eight lengths.
“That was a weak contest, but the break did him good and he’s maturing all of the time”, reported rider, Pat Smullen. “He won the way I thought he would.”
Speaking from home, Weld indicated that a winners of one or a handicap would be next for his charge.
Smullen completed a double when driving the Joe Murphy-trained Rose Hip to a length success over front-running Toraidhe in the Guinness Handicap.
For the Fethard, Co Tipperary handler it was a second winner of the week, to go with The Pier on Thursday.
Said Murphy: “Pat beat us in the second, but made up for it there. She is very gutsy and tough and improving all the time.”
A Group 3 at Gowran Park next Saturday is the next target for the five-year-old.
Murphy then took his total to three when Maggie The Cat pounced late to land an extraordinary victory in the L.M Carey and Company Handicap.
The daughter of Fasliyey was very slowly out of stalls and immediately trailed the field, with her chance apparently gone.
But Declan McDonogh kept his cool and gradually worked her into the contest. Nevertheless, she still seemed to have far too much to do with less than two furlongs to run.
Suddenly, however, Maggie The Cat found an explosive turn of foot, allied to those in front beginning to tie up, and she swept ahead close home to score by three parts of a length.
Paul Magnier described Barry Geraghty as a “premier league rider of the highest calibre”, after he had guided his Duers to land the Southampton Goodwill Chase.
Duers has proved an excellent money-spinner for Magnier and made the step up in class in fine style.
Geraghty powered him to the front over the second last and Reisk Superman, who was none too good three out, could never reel in the winner.
“We will have a think as to where he will go next, but the owner wants to run in the Aintree Grand National”, said Magnier.
The Phantom Piper, who made the running, but had just been headed when falling two out, broke a leg and had to be destoyed.
The Lorna Casey-trained Miss Mary Mac continued on an upward curve with a smooth victory in the John J Galvin Maiden Hurdle.
Beautifully handled by Mikey O’Connor, she was just about to take the measure of Kealigolane when that one departed two out.
Gambled-on Bangonform, 3-1 to 2-1, tried to close but couldn’t get in any sort of blow and was four lengths adrift at the line.
Thats a Fret, successful at Down Royal previously, did the business again in the Kirbys’ Brogue Inn-Kirbys’ Lanterns Hotel Handicap.
Enterprisingly handled by Ben Curtis, Liam McAteer’s colt made all the running to easily beat the slow-starting Sarah’s News.
The Bumper saw Willie Mullins’ newcomer, Quinfromcloonbunny, produce a tremendous turn of foot in the last furlong to score going away.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved