The Dessie Hughes-trained White Star Line recorded a poignant victory in the Wilderness Chase in Clonmel yesterday.
Having made his breakthrough over fences when landing the valuable Guinness Kerry National in Listowel last month, the nine-year-old was having his first run since the sudden death of his owner Patsy Byrne.
And, reunited with Bryan Cooper, who missed the ride in Listowel, he duly obliged, justifying 4/5 favouritism at the expense of market rival Make A Track, which made stakes at the last two fences when apparently well held by the winner.
Winning rider Cooper explained: “He wants every yard of three miles. So, over that trip, I didn’t want to sit around too long and sent him to the front turning in. He was doing very little in front, pricking his ears and having a look around, and there was plenty in the tank.
“He jumped great and getting his head in front in Listowel has helped his confidence. He looks an ideal horse for those staying handicaps, over three miles plus. And the boss has already mentioned the Becher Chase in Aintree as a possible target for him.”
Trainer John Joe Walsh and amateur Ambrose McCurtin took the honours when sharing a double with Love On Top and Hard Bought.
The victory of Love On Top over joint-favourites Lily of The Moor and Theatre Bird in the opening mares maiden hurdle proved particularly sweet as the five-year-old daughter of Westerner is also owned by the winning rider.
Walsh said: “She jumped great and stay at it well. She’s a mare with a great pedigree and will go handicapping now.”
And, after Hard Bought pipped Famous Ballerina by a short-head in the amateur riders’ handicap hurdle, he stated: “Ambrose is inspired today. This horse is more of a chaser when he won’t start that job until he can’t win any more over hurdles.”
A sting in the tail came for McCurtin when he was suspended for two days for using his with excessive frequency and above shoulder height and not giving his mount time to respond.
Edward O’Grady was on the mark when Gallant Tipp, in the colours of JP McManus, kept punters happy in the Cashel Maiden Hurdle, getting the better of Wilde Sapphire despite a few unity jumps.
As big as 10/1 in the morning and sent off 4/1 joint-favourite, the Jimmy Mangan-trained Truckin’ All Night (ridden by trainer’s son Paddy) landed a gamble when getting the better of flattering top weight Catch Me in the three-mile www.grahamnorris.com Memorial Handicap Hurdle.
Mangan commented: “He hasn’t been a bad old servant. He’s a great jumper and fences are only around the corner for him.”
Backinthere, trained by Eamonn Gallagher made a successful chasing debut when outstaying Back In A Tic in the mares beginners chase.
Mouse Morris provided the biggest shock of the day when 25/1 shot Baily Dusk, which has undergone a succession of wind operations, made most of the running under Ben Dalton to win the concluding three-mile handicap chase.
* Amateur Brenda Crowley was in hot water with the Stewards following his handling of fifth-placed The Blarney Rose, trained by Eugene O’Sullivan, in the mares beginners chase.
He was found guilty of not making every effort to attain the best possible finishing position and banned for seven race-days.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved