Shaneshill and Outlander confirmed themselves exciting hurdling recruits when registering smooth, odds-on wins for Willie Mullins in yesterday’s maiden hurdle action in Fairyhouse.
Winner of the Grade 1 bumper at the Punchestown Festival and runner-up in the Cheltenham equivalent, Shaneshill justified 2/11 favouritism with the minimum of fuss in the Fairyhouse Membership 2015 Maiden Hurdle, tracking the leaders and jumping well until produced by Ruby Walsh to lead at the second before coasting home, hard held, four lengths clear of Keppols Queen.
“I’m very pleased with that,” said the champion trainer. “The trip (two and a half miles) was not a problem, he can go back to two miles or go up in trip — we won’t be restricted by trip. He jumped very well, although he did miss the third last. It was a good start.”
Both Boylesports and Paddy Power make Shaneshill 7/1 for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle and 10/1 for the Supreme Novices’ at Cheltenham.
Earlier, Outlander, off the track since disappointing when beaten favourite in the Grade 1 bumper at the 2013 Punchestown Festival, produced a similarly impressive display — under Bryan Cooer — in the Christmas Party Race Day At Fairyhouse Maiden Hurdle.
Always travelling well, close to the pace, the Gigginstown-owned Stowaway edged ahead at the second last flight and, soon in command, stayed on powerfully to win, readily, by 11 lengths ahead of Mike McCann.
In third place was Blue Bicycle, the first runner for Sandra Hughes, who took over the licence following the death of her father Dessie over the weekend.
“He was very, very good,” Mullins said of Outlander. “He jumped well and will probably go up in trip. After a break, you’re always worried about how things will go. We’ll keep him to the staying novice division.”
The 131-rated Waxies Dargle proved an emphatic winner of the opening Premier Jump Weekend Hurdle.
“He was rated to win and did it well — the soft ground and good gallop helped him,” trainer Noel Meade said.
The JP McManus-owned five-year-old asserted between the last two flights before beating Digeanta comfortably, with the Willie Mullins-trained odds-on favourite a disappointing sixth.
Meade completed a first and last race double when Aengus, third on his recent debut in Naas, landed the bumper at the expense of Cappacon and the Willie Mullins-trained odds-on favourite Arkwrisht.
The trainer said: “Nina was kicking herself after Naas — she said she gave him a terrible ride and should have won. He’s a nice horse and learned plenty from Naas, and so did Nina. He’ll go hurdling and will need at least two and a half miles.”
Paul Nolan was elated after 7/2 favourite Triplets Joy, ridden by Kevin Sextion, outstayed Mallards In Flight in the Boylesports Irish Grand National @ Fairyhouse Handicap Hurdle.
“She’s a tough little bit of stuff and handles that heavy ground,” Nolan said. “She would have won over further in Thurles the last day. We’ll stick to mares races and, although she’s small, she jumps a fence well.”
Sexton’s joy was tempered somewhat after he collected a three-day ban for using his whip with excessive frequency.
The Brian O’Connell-ridden Broadway Twist (16/1) gave trainer Liz Doyle a birthday winner when proving too strong for the flattering Duty Dance in the Fairyhouse Schooling Grounds Handicap Hurdle.
And Tipped Up Harry, trained by Denise Foster, defied top-weight in the Punter’s Pack Handicap Hurdle, getting the better of Written Inthestars to register his fifth success over hurdles.
lTrainer-rider Derek Kelly was banned for 10 days and ordered to attend RACE when found guilty of using his whip with excessive force and frequency when out of contention on Cinder Rua in the maiden hurdle won by Outlander.
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