The West’s Awake was a poignant winner of the two-and-a-half-mile novice chase at Punchestown yesterday.
The John Magnier-owned six-year-old is trained by Edward O’Grady, whose wife Maria was tragically killed in a riding accident last Saturday.
The West’s Awake, who had won two of his previous three starts over fences, was a 16-1 shot to add to his tally and while he was on the back foot rounding the home turn, he finished strongly after the final fence to claim victory in the hands of Andrew Lynch.
O’Grady was not present, but his charge received a warm reception in the winner’s enclosure.
Lynch said: “I was talking to Mr O’Grady the other day and he said, ‘Carry on, and hopefully he might bring us a bit of luck’.
“He’s done it well and Mr O’Grady wasn’t sure whether he would handle the ground or not but he picked up well.
“It’s great that he’s won and hopefully that will give him (O’Grady) a bit of a lift.”
The Willie Mullins-trained Bon Papa made a successful chasing debut in the Download The Betdaq App Beginners Chase to complete a double for Barry Geraghty and owner J P McManus and spark a double for his trainer.
The field tightened up following the fall of front-running Avenir D’Une Vie at the seventh and, having looked in trouble briefly before the home-turn, the French-bred Network gelding was soon back tanking along and, taking command between the last two fences, drew clear to slam Light That by eleven lengths.
“He was probably a fortuitous winner,” suggested winning trainer Mullins.
“But he jumped well and wants further – the further he was going the better he was going today. So we’ll step him up in trip. I’ll talk to Frank (Berry) about plans, but he could go for the Grade 2 novice at Limerick over Christmas.”
The earlier two-mile maiden hurdle produced a thrilling finish, with the Gavin Cromwell-trained Spades Are Trumps getting up late under Barry Geraghty to foil 4/11 favourite Paloma Blue by a head, with Athenean a similar distance away third.
“He jumped novicey the first day, but he schooled well and progressed since Wexford,” explained Gavin Cromwell, who trains the four-year-old Yeats gelding for J P McManus. “I’ll chat with the lads (McManus and Frank Berry) about where they want to go next with him.”
Geraghty and McManus were narrowly denied a treble when the Paul Nolan-trained 9/4 favourite Fitzhenry (made one bad mistake in the back straight) went down by a short-head to 16/1 shot Flynsini, ridden for Pat Cloke by J J Slevin, in the (1-116) Betdaqtips.com Handicap Chase.
Later, Willie Mullins completed his double when Bang Bang Rosie, formerly with Colin McBratney and having his first run for the champion trainer, justified 11/8 favouritism in the bumper.
John Coleman’s five-year-old Stowaway mare scored emphatically by six and a half lengths from Calicojack. Mullins stated: “She’s not the biggest, but she’s brave and I’m looking forward to going hurdling with her sooner rather than later.”
Deputising for the suspended Sean Flanagan, Jonathan Moore recorded his first win since returning full-time to ride for Noel Meade when 7/4 favourite Minella Fair prevailed by a half-length over Derrinross in the INH Stallion Owners Maiden Hurdle, which turned into a gruelling test, over two miles and six furlongs. Meade commented: “He’s a half-brother to Time For Rupert. He stays well and the ground couldn’t be soft enough for him. He fractured his pelvis when he won his bumper, so we had to forget abut the spring. I waited for the ground and the trip and he’ll stay over hurdles this season, but he’s really a staying chaser.”
The consistent Gracemount, trained for the Kavanagh family by Sean Doyle in County Wexford, gained an overdue success when landing the Sign Up To Betdaq Today Mares Handicap Hurdle at the expense of Nerual.
Placed in five of her six previous attempts over timber, the six-year-old travelled well for Mark Walsh and won, despite idling in front, by a half-length, prompting her trainer to state: “We’ve been waiting a while for that. But she’s a grand mare and was crying out for a trip. She stepped-up today and, although we had a good summer with her, she prefers this soft ground.”
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