New Phase survives last flight scare to land gamble

NEW Phase survived a serious final flight blunder to justify hefty support in the Corporate Hospitality At Fairyhouse Hurdle at Fairyhouse yesterday.

The six-year-old, trained by Dermot Weld for his son Kris and a smooth winner of his maiden over course and distance last April, was backed from 5/2 to 13/8 on-track and travelled sweetly throughout before edging to the front at the second last flight. In command under a confident Robbie McNamara, the Spectrum gelding hit the last hurdle hard before getting back on an even keel to beat Awkward Moment by three lengths, with the uneasy odds-on favourite Dr. Whizz (Tony McCoy) a very disappointing fifth of six and subsequently found to be ‘distressed’

“He’ll go back to the flat, for a ten furlong handicap in the early weeks of the season,” explained Dermot Weld. “He’s still a bit novicy and has a lot to learn yet over jumps. But he’s a nice dual-purpose horse.”

New Phase was the first leg of a third career double for Robbie McNamara, completed when Crash made a successful debut in the bumper, providing trainer Michael Hourigan, who was not present, with compensation for the earlier defeats of Awkward Moment and Dizzy Rascal.

Bought for €35,000 at Tattersalls, Crash won his only point-to-point, at Dromahane, and made a favourable impression here, readily brushing aside the challenge of the Willie Mullins-trained favourite The Bosses Cousin. Crash carries the colours of Gigginstown House Stud, whose representative Eddie O’Leary stated: “He’s a nice horse and will go out in a field now before going hurdling next season.”

Moskova has proven a tremendous money-spinner for trainer Paul Nolan and owner Robert Hennelly in recent seasons and notched the ninth win of her career when coming from last to first under Robert Power to beat front-running Footy Facts in the three-mile Dunshaughlin Hurdle.

The mare’s trainer is on a ski-ing holiday. But his brother and assistant James stressed: “It wasn’t her fault she got beaten the last day. She needs five to six weeks between races and ran back too soon.

“She’s not ungenuine, but likes to get things her own way. She doesn’t like being surrounded by horse and needs to run in small fields. ‘Puppy’ (Rober Power) said she was flat to the boards coming down from Ballyhack, but that she picked up the bit after the third last and was really travelling again.”

When quizzed about plans for Moskova, Nolan added: “She’s in both the mares race (David Nicholson Mares Hurdle) and Coral Cup in Cheltenham. But I’d be worried that they’d go too quick for her there. It’s more likely that she’ll come back here at Easter, either for the Irish National or for the mares chase she won last year. She’s still eligible for it because she hasn’t won a ‘Grade 2’ yet.”

The previously frustrating The Book Thief finally got off the mark over hurdles when justifying hefty support (2/1 to 6/4) in the Maiden Hurdle, staying on stoutly under a strong ride by Davy Russell to beat Merchant Royal and Glenlo Abbey.


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