John Cullen recorded his first success as a full-time trainer when landing yesterday’s feature race, the €36,000-to-the-winner Ladbrokes Island Handicap Hurdle with the game Misty Lady.
Sean Flanagan tried to make all in the two-mile event but the challengers queued up on the turn for home, and her chance looked to have gone when Lilly The Lioness forged ahead between the last two. However, the well-backed Misty Lady (16-1 to 10-1) battled back under a strong drive to prevail by the narrowest of margins.
“It’s my first winner since I took the job training for Joey Logan,” said a delighted Cullen. “I have just a couple for the track and about 20 for point to points.
“Misty Lady would prefer to be going right-handed, but you have to have a go when the conditions are right, and this was too valuable an opportunity to let go. She’s as tough as nails.”
After a string of decent efforts in defeat, Tadaany’s time finally came in the opening one-mile maiden. The Dermot Weld-trained three-year-old was settled just behind the pace by Pat Smullen, and then asked to mount his challenge off the final bend. Running strongly, he stretched clear inside the final furlong to beat Rainfall Radar by almost five lengths.
Said Smullen: “He handled the ground well, which was a great help, and was entitled to win. The turning track suited, and he got the run of the race.”
Snakes And Ladders finished runner-up here on Wednesday, and went one place better when taking the Michael Daffy Car Sales Handicap for trainer Niall ‘Boots’ Madden and jockey Fran Berry. Pushed along to take a midfield position early, he was ridden to lead approaching the final furlong and, after going clear, held off the flying finish of Future Earner by half a length. “I had a lot of seconds but couldn’t get a winner, so it’s great he made the breakthrough,” said Madden. “He ran a cracker here yesterday, and was entitled to go very well again. We’ll keep going with him now, and look for something similar.”
Trainer Jim Bolger recorded his second victory of the meeting when 10-1 chance Robertstown got up late to foil a big gamble on Swamp Fox (11-2 to 2-1f).
The favourite looked set to score when leading around the final turn and then opening up a clear lead. However, the lightly raced Robertstown, who was under pressure from a long way out, responded well to Kevin Manning’s urgings, and edged ahead inside the final half-furlong to score by half a length, the two a long way clear of the remainder.
The Patrick Prendergast-trained Ceylon revelled in the testing conditions when stretching clear up the straight to take the Behan’s Horseshoe Bar & Restaurant Handicap. The mount of Ronan Whelan, she posted the second success of her career when beating the staying-on Face Value by almost four lengths.
“I knew she’d go on the ground, and she came here having run very well at the Curragh,” said Prendergast. “She’s a good-looking mare, and I’ll try to get her some black type now - if the ground is heavy it’s not beyond her.”
Danny Howard took a wide course aboard easy-to-back even-money favourite Archie Meade in the Kevin McManus Beginners’ Chase, and it reaped reward, but not without some last-fence drama.
Turning for home, Marvellous Moment led by a couple of lengths and was still marginally in front when taking a tumble at the final fence. That left the challenging Archie Meade to coast home, for an overdue first chase success.
Said Howard: “On paper he was head and shoulders above the rest, and the only thing that would have got him beaten was me. He didn’t jump the last two great, and it was unfortunate for the other horse (Marvellous Moment) but I had the better of him when he fell.”
There was a terrific finish to the Devon Inn Hotel Handicap Hurdle, in which 20-1 outsider Ongenstown Lad got the verdict in a three-way photo.
A talented sort whose career has been blighted by setbacks, he came with his challenge down the outside and, under Robbie Colgan, prevailed by a nose, from Divine Rhapsody, with the four-timer seeking Slygufftou just a short head away, in third.
Said Barry Callaghan: “I’m delighted for the owners, who persevered with him. He’s had a lot of problems, but things worked out well today, and Robbie gave him a great ride.”
“That’s what I had hoped for – it’s job done,” said trainer Willie Mullins, after Fugi Mountain justified odds of 2-5 in completing a hat-trick with victory in the concluding bumper. “I think we’ll leave it at that for now. I don’t want to go hurdling yet, we’ll preserve his novice status for this season, and will go the flat/hurdle route with him in future, rather than chasing.”
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