CITY Island (8/1) provided the Mulryan family with a famous success in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. Sean Mulryan founded the Ballymore Properties Group, and City Island runs in the colours of his wife Bernadette.
Another day, another Grade 1 winner for Mark Walsh at The Festival™ presented by @MagnersUK...— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) March 13, 2019
City Island is the 2019 @Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle champion!#CheltenhamFestival pic.twitter.com/Em3vjEIoHO
The six-year-old has been brought along steadily by Martin Brassil, who kept him out of the top grade until today.
Brassil said: "It's been a long time coming, but you need good horses. I wanted to bring the horse here unbeaten and then I thought we might have a chance of doing something good.
"He's a precocious sort of horse compared to some of those big, strong chasing types, and he'd pleased us every time.
"He was improving as he came along, but whether he was good enough to have his first Graded race in this place we didn't know. It's great to have a Festival winner on the CV. It's wonderful."
Ridden by Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle hero Mark Walsh, the only moment of worry came on the approach to the second-last when City Island went for a gap between Sams Profile and Valdieu, but he made it just in time.
Into the straight, it only concerned two, Champ coming clear with the winner, but Nicky Henderson’s 9/2 chance gave way after the last with City Island a two-length winner.
Speaking after the race, the winning jockey said: "They went a good gallop and I was happy with my position the whole way. I got into a nice little position coming down to the third-last hurdle, and while it became a little bit rough at that point I got a nice run through to the second-last and he went on up the hill."
Ben Pauling’s Bright Forecast stayed on for third, just ahead of Brewin’upastorm.