Edward O’Grady’s horses have been in fine fettle this summer, and Time For Mabel continued the trainer’s good form with a smashing display in the Killarney Grand Handicap Hurdle on the final day of the four-day July festival at the Kerry track.
Never far off the pace but a little more keen than ideal, he was squeezed out going to the second-last, but came with a strong effort to challenge at the last.
When Cliff House made a mistake at the obstacle, the easy-to-back 6-1 chance asserted to win by a little more than a length.
“I thought we would have gone a bit quicker, and he was always doing a bit too much, but he quickened up well,” said winning rider Andrew Lynch.
“He got 7lbs for winning the last day, which I thought was harsh enough, but obviously it wasn’t. The last day was the day for him, and today was a bonus.”
Joseph O’Brien claimed a second winner of the meeting when Tesseract, like Oathkeeper a day earlier, carried the JP McManus colours to victory in the opening novice hurdle.
Never out of the first two, Barry Geraghty’s mount led down the straight but a bad mistake at the last, which he did well to get away with, opened the door for Hudson’s Bay and Henry’s Girl, both of whom closed rapidly in the closing stages.
However, three-time bumper winner Tesseract held on to deny Hudson’s Bay by a neck.
Odds-on favourite Penhill burst blood vessels, and was all but pulled up.
“That was nice. He jumped reasonably well, and likes that good ground, but they were closing him down quickly at the line,” said McManus’ racing manager, Frank Berry.
“I’d say he learned a little bit from Bellewstown. He’s more a summer horse than a winter horse, and we’ll see what’s down the road for him.
“It’s probably too close to Galway, and he mightn’t be good enough to go there. He’s a straight-forward horse, who won his few bumpers and is getting the hang of the jumping game.”
Since his wayward antics in a Tramore chase in which he all but ran out, King’s Wharf’s form has taken a more positive turn and, following decent efforts in defeat at Wexford and Bellewstown, he responded to a first association with Ruby Walsh by taking the Europe Hotel & Resort Handicap.
“His first run for us was bad, and his second was a disaster, so it wasn’t hard to improve on it,” said Walsh.
“For his run in Wexford at least he ran, and he improved at Bellewstown, and improved again today. Hopefully he can go forward from this.”
The only drama in the Dawn Omega Milk Handicap came in the final 100 yards when Black Benny, who looked to have been delivered with a beautifully timed run, shortened his stride and conceded a two-length advantage as Kennedys Mor regained the lead to score under David Mullins.
The runner-up was matched at 1.01 on Betfair for €14,000.
It was a second victory of the meeting for Upton trainer John Murphy, who said: “I was sure he was beaten, so much so that I walked out of the place I was watching the race. I thought he’d be a good second, but he’s a tough horse and stays well. We had this in mind for a long time, and there was no Plan B.”
After finishing third, second and then falling in his three previous outings over fences, Akito got his turn in the Dawn Hi + Lo Milk Beginners’ Chase.
Mick Thonic had given a display of effortless jumping and was still in front until putting down at the second-last and sending Davy Russell crashing to the ground.
That left the chasers to battle it out and it was the Shay Barry-trained Akito, ridden by Paul Townend, who battled bravest to edge out Our Dougal and Draco.
“Obviously, he came against a good one (Xsquared) at Limerick two runs ago, and was unlucky when he fell there last time, so he deserved this,” said Barry. “Two and a half miles is his trip, and it’s great to get this. It’s Paul’s first winner for me.”
Some astute placing by trainer Norman Lee allowed 110-rated hurdler Supreme Vic (5-2f) exploit a much lower chase mark in the Dawn Milk Run Handicap.
Confidently ridden throughout by Jack Kennedy, the in-foal mare was brought to lead at the second-last, and duly moved clear to win readily from Galboystown Lady.
“I’m delighted with that as it’s gamble landed. We had a good few quid on her,” revealed Lee.
“She was thrown in over fences, and jumped like a stag. She is in foal to Rock Of Gibraltar and has until the end of August to race, and will run probably under her penalty at Tipperary on Sunday.”
Four fantastic days at Killarney came to a close with classic-winning trainer Adrian Keatley providing the winner of the bumper, Mountain Rock, in the hands of champion point-to-point rider Jamie Codd.
Although the Mountain High four-year-old had failed to threaten in three outings in point-to-points, his successful track debut came as no surprise to new connections.
Codd said: “I rode work on him the other day, and he worked really well with a couple of Adrian’s Flat horses.
“To be honest, we were coming her with a great shout and he has done his job. I don’t know the plan is for him, maybe a winner’s bumper, but we’ll have to see what Adrian says.”
The action will return to Killarney next month, with another four-day meeting getting underway on Wednesday, August 17.
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