The defeat of three odds-on shots was countered somewhat by a double for jockey Davy Russell and a successful bumper favourite for Willie Mullins at yesterday afternoon’s meeting at Tramore.
The first leg of Russell’s near 54-1 double came in the opening race, where the Eddie Harty-trained More Than Ever left previous disappointments behind when delivered with a well-timed challenge to beat Cotton Jenny by a length.
Peace N’ Milan was sent off the 4-7 favourite but there was plenty of late opposition to her on the exchanges and the mare, possibly unsuited by the conditions, struggled to make any impact.
“That was a pleasant surprise,” said the winning trainer. “But it was an end-of-season mares’ maiden, and she was crying out for good ground.”
Bye Bye O Bye completed Russell’s brace when justifying strong support in the two-mile-five handicap hurdle.
Turned out quickly by trainer Michael Griffin after winning readily at Kilbeggan on Friday evening, the 11-10 favourite was settled in midfield for much of the trip, ridden to challenge at the second last, and then stayed on well to deny the late challenge of Cadawill by three parts of a length.
“I haven’t had a moment’s worry since I got the horse,” said Griffin. “Someone said there is a three-mile 0-109 at Cork a few weeks’ time, so I might aim him at that. The way he jumped in point-to-points he could be anything over fences.”
In between the two winning rides, Russell was out of luck aboard odds-on favourite Justforjames in the two-mile-five maiden hurdle. Victory went to track debutant Thats Mypresenting, for Brian O’Connell and trainer Shay Barry.
Never out of the first two, the 14-1 chance was ridden from three out, jumped to the front at the last and proved more than two lengths too good for Double Windsor.
“He is an eight-year-old but that was a fine first run on the track,” said Barry. “He stays well and, while it wasn’t the strongest of races, he should improve for it.”
Dermot McLoughlin’s horses remain in fine form, and Wither Hills gave the Ratoath handler another success when taking the two-mile handicap chase in the hands of Conor Maxwell.
Patiently ridden from the outset, he eased into contention on the long run to the second-last, took over between the last two, and readily accounted for the well-backed Ballyfinboy.
“The ground is key to him,” said McLoughlin. “He loves it around Dundalk, so wants fast going and he got it here. He’ll get a bit of a break now, and then we’ll mix it with him.”
Former point-to-point winner Glasslyn Road improved on previous efforts inside the rails when taking the two-mile-five handicap chase for Philip Enright and trainer James Dullea.
The 10-1 chance tracked West Ship Master for most of the journey, and found plenty to lead at the second-last, before racing home two and a half lengths clear of that rival.
Joked the Bandon trainer: “We were struggling all winter because Tramore wasn’t on.
“We have him over a year and his work has always been a lot better than his form would suggest. He wants a bit of decent ground, and that’s what brought about the difference today.”
Theatre Princess became the third odds-on shot beaten at the meeting when having to settle for second place behind the well-backed Hurricane Ben in the Tote Rewards Hunters Chase.
Ridden with customary confidence by Jamie Codd, James Sheehan’s horse travelled strongly, challenged along the rails at the second-last, and strolled clear up the straight to win as he liked.
“He has been waiting for better ground, and the shorter trip suited,” said the winning jockey.
While Willie Mullins hasn’t been as prolific in bumpers as we’ve become accustomed to, there have been plenty of winners in that sphere, and Toast became the latest when just getting the better of market rival Inchiquin High in the finale. The 6-4 favourite travelled particularly well, but had to be hard ridden to see off his rival by a neck.
“She’s not big but she handled the track and ground, and I expect she’ll be kept on the go for the summer,” said winning rider Patrick Mullins.
“I’m sure she’ll jump a hurdle in time, but we might also try to pick up a Flat race with her.”
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