AFTER spending the best part of three months on the sidelines with an injured shoulder, reigning champion jockey Paul Townend made a seamless return to the saddle by winning on all three of his rides at Fairyhouse last Saturday.
On his first public appearance since the Listowel Festival, Townend made his comeback on three Willie Mullins inmates and enjoyed the perfect return on Blue Lord in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase. On a day which offered yet further evidence of the depth of talent within the Mullins yard, the multiple Grade 1-placed novice hurdler took well to this new discipline.
Indeed supporters of the Simon Munir and Isaac Souede-owned 8/11 favourite never had a moment’s worry. Blue Lord raced on the pace throughout and never came under strong pressure to record a commanding five-and-a-half-length success over stablemate El Barra.
“It’s nice to be back and especially on the likes of him. He’s matured a lot both physically and mentally and did very well over the summer. He was always looking for the next fence today to take it on,” stated Townend.
Another Mullins one-two was to follow in the two-mile, five-furlong beginners’ chase where the Townend-ridden Stattler (5/4), a dual Grade 1-placed staying novice hurdler last term, made a bright start over the larger obstacles.
The Ronnie Bartlett-owned son of Stowaway responded readily to his rider’s promptings to take the measure of Fighter Allen at the last fence. There should be much more to come from the winner, especially when he moves up in trip.
“Just like Blue Lord he loves jumping fences. He showed a turn of foot from the back of the second last up to the line that surprised me a bit. It’s a perfect start for him and you would imagine he will make into a staying chaser,” observed the rider.
The Townend and Mullins treble was completed by Hi Ho Phoenix (7/4) in the near three-mile maiden hurdle. The five-year-old looks like one who should make an appreciably better jumper as he dished out an easy nine-length beating to the 109-rated Simply Shabra.
“I think jumping has improved this horse so much. He really enjoyed it and will jump a fence in time. He was improving in all his bumper runs and I think he will keep improving,” concluded the rider.
IT was another industrious day for Gordon Elliott who notched up a double and unveiled a smart looking type in Liberty Dance (3/1) who impressed in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies INH Flat Race.
The Tim O’Driscoll-owned daughter of Solider Of Fortune travelled nicely throughout for Jamie Codd and stamped her authority on this race in the last quarter of a mile to hand out a seven-and-a-half-length defeat to Clairmc.
“I was impressed with that and I’d say she’s a nice mare. A bit more time wouldn’t do her any harm so we might run her in one of the good mares’ bumpers in the spring and leave it at that for the season,” reported the trainer.
Elliott was earlier successful with the Ray Stokes-owned Britzka in the three-year-old maiden hurdle as the Zoffany gelding made his debut for the yard following a €40,000 sale at Goffs last month.
The well-backed 9/4 favourite looked as though he might have to work hard to get involved turning for home but then picked up readily for Davy Russell to strike the front before the last and run out an easy six-length winner over Scenic Look.
“He came from Eddie Harty and had a very nice run on the flat at Leopardstown a couple of months ago. He might be a Fred Winter type of horse and I could see him going back on the flat at some stage too,” commented the trainer.
JUST under a year after getting off the mark over fences Henry de Bromhead’s Arahecan (12/1) came good again in the two-mile handicap chase.
Dylan Robinson’s mount looked poised to deliver a telling effort when the fall of Kitty Galore at the second last left him nicely clear of the field. From this point onwards the 123-rated gelding always looked to be in control and he finished five lengths clear of Fighting Fit.
Henry de Bromhead trains the winner for Roger Brookhouse and indicated that his charge would turn out again over Christmas.
The Sean Aherne-trained Nicole’s Milan (11/1) once again showed his liking for Fairyhouse in the near three-mile 80-102-rated handicap hurdle where he notched up his fourth track success, almost five years after he recorded his first victory here.
Philip Enright produced the Eoin Barry-owned winner to head the strong travelling Call Me Freddie at the last and Nicole’s Milan ran out a decisive four-and-a-half-length winner over Fizzlestick.
Elsewhere the Eddie Cawley-owned and trained Breezy Bell (17/2) notched up the second success of her career in the 80-109 rated handicap hurdle over two miles. The Chris Timmons-ridden daughter of Soldier Hollow and Ever So Much were well clear of the field from before halfway. In the straight Breezy Bell brushed aside her fellow pace setter en route to an eight-length victory over Sil Ver Klass.