Having finished the old season on a high at Punchestown, Willie Mullins made the perfect start to the 2016-2017 campaign when recording a double with his first two runners, Livelovelaugh and Fire In Soul, in Ballinrobe yesterday.
Off the track for more than a year, since being tried in Grade 1 bumper company, Livelovelaugh justified strong market support when bolting-up in the opener, the Tipperary Maiden Hurdle.
Having tracked the leader, in-form Paul Townend allowed the 8/13 favourite stride on after the second last and Susannah Ricci’s Beneficial gelding stretched clear to slam Glencairn View, easily, by eight lengths.
“It was very straight-forward,” stated Townend.
“It’s nice to get him back to the track. He was a bit fresh early on but jumped great. I’d say he’ll be kept going for the summer.”
Bryan Cooper, in the Gigginstown colours, provided the second leg of the Mullins double as Fire In Soul, winner of his maiden in Clonmel before failing to make an impression in Grade 2 company at Fairyhouse, coasted to an easy, twenty-one lengths victory over Coffee in the Mulholland Bookmakers Rated Hurdle.
Having ridden his first winner of the new season, Cooper commented: “I liked when he won his maiden and I don’t know what happened him in Fairyhouse.
“But he jumps and stays well and was good today. He probably wants further and he looks a nice prospect as a summer chaser.”
Mark Walsh took the riding honours, thanks to a double for J P McManus on Spider Web (12/1) in the John Madden & Sons Handicap Hurdle and Peoples Park, the well-backed 7/2 second favourite, in the Audi Ballina beginners Chase.
Peoples Park swept past front-running Pistol Park between the last two fences before forging clear to win by six lengths, prompting trainer Tom Taaffe, to state: “Experience counted – with a rating of 122, he was entitled to do that. He jumped well and galloped away. We’ll see if the rain comes, because he won’t run on quick ground.”
Denis O’Regan rider of the longtime leader Pistol Park, which was pipped for second spot by Bringerofthedawn, was hit with a five-day ban for not riding out his mount, under Rule 212.
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