Without a win since landing the Grade 1 Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in March 2013, Realt Mor returned to the winner’s enclosure when landing the Sheridan Agri-Contractors Chase in Ballinrobe last night.
The Gordon Elliott-trained eleven-year-old, third at Perth in his most recent start, got the better of Usa by a length, having tracked the leaders before challenging at the second last.
He provided Jack Kennedy with the second leg of a double, for the second successive meeting at the County Mayo track, bringing his seasonal tally to an impressive 34, 11 clear of nearest pursuer Davy Russell in the title-race.
Winning rider Kennedy commented: “He’s a class horse at his best, but just lost his way. He settled well and jumped brilliant out there and, hopefully, he’s back to himself.
“I got racing on him a bit earlier than ideal. He was left on his own after the last, with Paul’s horse along the stands rail but, to be fair to him, he kept galloping.”
Kennedy had initiated his double when partnering Lisa’s Legacy, trained in County Galway for the McNamara Family Syndicate by Shane Ryder, to an emphatic, six lengths win over front-running top-weight Indian Rupee in the David Heneghan Memorial Handicap Hurdle.
“He’s a grand horse, but I didn’t think he’d win that well,” admitted Ryder, who is based outside Ballinasloe.
“He ran twice in Galway and I was afraid it might have left its mark.”
Another win for County Galway came in the opening Martinstown Opportunity Maiden Hurdle when Steve Mahon saddled 10/1 shot Highway Royal to land the spoils under Conor Brassil.
“He’s a nice little horse, but he’s still a bit green, ” stated Mahon. “I’m delighted for his owner Paul Mannion, a Galway man based in London, who has five horses with us. This hose is only four and is still light – he needs a bit of time.”
Ruby Walsh was seen at his patient and tactical best when producing Head Turner with a perfectly-timed challenge to win the Ballinrobe Race Committee Mares Handicap Hurdle in good style from Hurry Kitty.
He brought the five-year-old High Chaparral mare from behind, pounced on the home-turn (after the relocated final flight) and drove her clear to triumph by four lengths, prompting her trainer to state: “It would be great to have a few more like her, with Ruby on them.”
He added: “It couldn’t have worked out any better – Ruby was great on her, got her switched off and she delivered.I’ll give her plenty of time and will freshen her up. I might try to find a suitable flat race for her next and she’ll go chasing nest year.”
The Enda Bolger-trained top-weight Blackthorn Prince, ridden by Mark Walsh, in the colours of J P McManus, justified hefty support and 3/1 favouritism when powering to a six lengths victory over Ballygill Princess in the Corrib Oil Handicap Hurdle.
Bolger commented: “He travelled great and galloped to the line. We have something to bring to Listowel. He’s rated 102 over fences, so we’ll have plenty of options for him. He’ll go back over banks during the winter.”
The finale, the On Course Vets Beginners Chase produced the most impressive performance of the night as the Colm Murphy-trained Killiney Court, enterprisingly ridden by Mikey Fogarty, made most of the running, poached a clear lead before half-way and scored by nine lengths from longshot Dancing Duke.
Having his third run over fences, the seven-year-old pleased Fogarty, who explained: “Colm told me to get him settled and I managed to get him into a good rhythm.
“I was able to get a breather into him after the fourth last and he kept going well. There might be another day in him, although I don’t think he wants winter ground.”
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