Venture Capital, which created a big impression on his debut Fairyhouse a year ago before flopping in the Grade 1 bumper at the Punchestown Festival, made a winning start to his hurdling career in the opening Mount Leinster Maiden Hurdle at Wexford yesterday.
The five-year-old Presenting gelding jumped well, apart from a mistake at the second, and came through to master Our Native Land at the final flight and win by two-and-three-quarter-lengths.
Venture Capital was the first winner Philip Fenton has trained for owner J P McManus and first winner in the famous colours for Brian O’Connell.
Fenton commented, “That was grand, a relief. He lost his way last season and wasn’t setting the world on fire at home. But he won well on ground that is heavier than he’d like.
“He didn’t have a racecourse gallop or school before today, so the experience should stand to him. We’ll look for something over Christmas or early in the New Year for him and he’ll probably be stepping-up in trip.” Fenton later indicated that the Grade 2 Slaney Hurdle at Naas on January 6 is a possible target.
Tammys Hill, a prolific winner in the point-to-point sphere, winning seven of his starts between the flags this year, turned over Christies Foxhunters victor Salsify in the Rosslare Hunters Chase. The Liam Lennon-trained seven-year-old swept past front-running Onefortheroad Mac after the second last fence and, although pursued by the favourite, always looked in command and had three-and-a-half lengths to spare at the line.
Tammys Hill was ridden by James Smyth who, in the absence of the winning trainer, explained: “He got beaten in heavy ground in Loughanmore and we came here looking for good ground, which he needs. I think the plan is to got to Down Royal at Christmas, then Leopardstown and on to Cheltenham.”
Willie Mullins rarely leaves a meeting empty-handed and Tasitiocht continued the champion trainer’s rich vein of form when making all to land the Saltees Island Mares Novice Hurdle in the colours of the CCR Racing Syndiicate (headed by Sean Ban Breathnach)..
Ridden by Patrick Mullins, the daughter of Oscar set a strong pace, jumped fluently and only had to be shaken-up on the run-in to beat Carries Darling by a length-and-a-half.
The odds-on favourite returned with a cut on a fore-leg. Mullins commented: “It’s unusual to see a horse cut through a boot. I’m a bit concerned, but it looks worse than it is. She’s one of the fillies that was sick a few weeks ago and missed a fortnight. But she’s back in good form and we’ll keep her to these mares novice races.”
Willie and Patrick were expected to complete a double with debutante Shake The Tree in the mares bumper. But the 4/7 shot stood still at the start, lost a significant amount of ground and, having trailed the field until six furlongs out, did well to finish fourth behind Catimini, ridden by Sean Byrne for his father and namesake, successful with Lead Kindly Light in Fairyhouse on Saturday.
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