GORDON Elliott dominated the weekend action at Fairyhouse and set the tone when saddled a 203/1 treble on Saturday afternoon with Minella Crooner, Landrake and Doctor Bravo.
Minella Crooner and the well-backed 4/6 shot I Am Maximus, who spoiled his chance by continually jumping out to the left, fought out a terrific finish to the Jim Ryan Racecourse Services Beginners Chase with Jack Kennedy’s mount just proving the stronger on the run-in to shade it by a short head.
“He’s a grand horse. We’ll probably head for Leopardstown over three miles and I’d imagine the further he goes the better he will be. He could be an ideal horse for a National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham,” said Elliott of the David Barnard-owned 2/1 chance.
“We were probably handed the race because the other horse jumped left but Jack said he has a great attitude and gallops the whole way. He’s very straightforward and was probably a bit fitter and sharper than the last day.”
Kennedy and Elliott also combined to take the Close Brothers Rated Novice Hurdle with the Caldwell Construction-owned Landrake (7/1).
The Martaline gelding followed up a Clonmel maiden win with an authoritative success drawing clear from before the last to beat Dovlator by six and a half lengths.
The Cullentra House trainer said: “He’s a nice big horse and doesn’t do anything at home, he’s very laidback. He has a good attitude and you’d like what he’s done there. He’s a big chaser looking at him and will get further.”
The victory of Doctor Bravo in the bumper was particularly sweet for Elliott as the race is run in memory of his uncle Willie.
“We’ve been trying to win this race for a few years and a lot of the family are here so it’s great,” he said after the 15/2 chance, also sporting the red and white colours of Caldwell Construction, quickened up nicely inside the final furlong under John Gleeson to score by over three lengths on his debut.
“This is a nice horse and looking at that he may go for another bumper.”
ALL eyes were on Facile Vega as the star bumper performer made his debut over hurdles in division two of the Kettles Country House Hotel Supporting Fingal Ravens GFC Raceday Maiden Hurdle and the Willie Mullins-trained gelding is now a red-hot 5/4 (from 7/4) favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham after a front-running display that was very pleasing on the eye.
Owned like his illustrious dam Quevega by the Hammer & Trowel Syndicate, the 1/9 favourite put in a fine round of jumping and took command early in the straight under Paul Townend for a facile 14-length verdict over An Mhi.
“I was very happy how he jumped for a horse first time out and making his own running. He hurdled like a handicapper and it was a fantastic performance,” said Mullins.
“Paul just gave him a squeeze and he took off up the straight. We’ll see how he is after this and maybe look at Christmas.”
The champion trainer earlier initiated a double when Whiskey Lullaby scored under Paul’s sister Jody in the Fairyhouse Ladies Handicap Chase.
The 11/2 chance just got the better of Galon De Vauzelle by a short-head following a tremendous tussle between the pair on the run-in.
“Jody was very happy there was going to be plenty of pace in the race so she took her time and may have even come a little too soon. She saw a great stride going to the last and took her chance,” said Mullins.
“She doesn’t like being in front too long as we saw coming up the straight. When she was passed Jodie got another tune out of her to get her back up on the line. Jodie and Paul have now won a race each on her and she’s a fun horse for the Blue Blood Racing Club.”
Klass captures chase success with a fine round of jumping
TONY Martin and Peterjon Carberry teamed up for a notable success as Sil Ver Klass landed the featured Easyfix Equine Handicap Chase. The 14/1 chance was never too far off the front-running Magic Daze and led approaching the final fence to score by three-quarters of a length. Magic Daze rallied again on the run-in for second with Mt Leinster, who did well to survive a mistake at the first fence, just a half-length back in third.
“He’s owned by local boys (the Mulvany’s Bar Syndicate from Dunboyne) and it couldn’t have worked out better. He’s won here before and jumps well around these fences. His strong point is his jumping and it’s a nice prize to win,” said Martin.
A delighted Carberry commented: “He seems to be a better chaser and proved it today. I hit the front soon enough but had to go for it at the time. He got a good jump at the last and stayed all the way to the line.”
Joyeux Machin (7/2) took division one of the maiden hurdle in good style when drawing clear in the closing stages to beat Viva Devito by five lengths and winning trainer Paul Nolan’s brother James expressed his relief that the yard is recovering from a barren spell saying: “We got held up at just the wrong time but they have turned a corner. They just weren’t 100% and we had a few coughing.
“We always thought he was a good horse and was a good bumper horse last year. He loves nice ground and Sean (O’Keeffe) said the difference in the feel of him today compared to Wexford was like two different horses.
“He’ll step up in company now and we’ll talk to Sam (McCauley, owner) about whether we run at Christmas or Naas. It looked like a truly run maiden to me and Sean said he was hard to pull up.”
Whatsavailable returned to form and justified strong support into the bargain in the Kevin Sheedy Bowel Cancer Raceday 17th December Handicap Hurdle. Available at 18/1 in the morning and backed at all rates down to 11/4, he struck the front after two out for Darragh O’Keeffe and kept on strongly on the run-in to beat Flying Scotsman by three lengths.
“I thought he’d make a lovely chaser and he’d two very disappointing runs. I then ran him back over hurdles and he didn’t seem to get home so we said we’d try a tongue-tie and it seems to have worked,” said Mouse Morris who trains the Saddler Maker gelding for Richard Scott. “He’s grand at home but gets very worked up when he comes racing.”