FLAME Bearer’s impressive rise up the ranks continued as he bagged a second Grade 2 victory of the season in the Tom Quinlan Electrical Novice Hurdle. This gelding has Grade 1 potential whenever his connections opt to race him.
After winning a Grade 2 at Naas in late February, Pat Doyle’s charge faced a different test of his mettle as he was lumbered with a 6lb penalty for that success. Flame Bearer did not have things go his way here but, as good horses do, the Linda Mulcahy and Mary Wolridge ultimately manageed to find a way to succeed.
Flame Bearer was caught in a pocket turning in, and an attempt to move to the outer was rebuffed by The Tide Turns.
Flame Bearer and Jack Doyle then had to take their chance down the inner but there was no way through there either and it was only after the last where things opened up somewhat to give the 5/4 favourite a chance.
On the run-in Flame Bearer came between Ha D’Or and The Tide Turns and he pulled victory out of the fire to edge out Ha D’Or by a neck.
“He’s a horse with a very big engine. I got pushed in and then I had to try and get down Paul’s (Townend) inner but that was never going to happen. Once I got over the last and he got running I knew I was going to get there,” stated the trainer’s son Jack. “He could go a long way. He’s not the most straightforward horse to train and he’s had niggly issues but he’s doing things well now.”
The divided two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle provided odds-on punters with contrasting fortunes and in the first split the Harry Swan-ridden 33/1 chance Hory downed the 1/4 favourite Level Neverending.
The latter did not jump well and his error at the last flight was his most costly as he went markedly left just as he was coming to challenge.
By contrast Hory ran straight and true to come between horses on the run-in and carry the day by one and three-quarter lengths. Ellmarie Holden’s charge had fallen at Wexford on the previous Friday evening and he was much more at home on this ground than the heavy conditions he struggled on at Gowran Park last month.
Favourite backers were able to bounce back in the second split of that maiden hurdle where Snake Oil (8/13) struck for Barry Connell and Sean Flanagan as he delivered on the promise that carried him into second in a Naas maiden won by Bring On The Night which was his first outing for over a year.
The front-running seven-year-old shrugged off the challenge of Glenglass before the last to win by four lengths with the pair finishing some 17 lengths clear of the remainder.
The winner is likely to stay going for the summer in novice hurdles.
A TYPICALLY industrious spring afternoon for Willie Mullins was headed by a Grade 2 victory for Bronn who came out the right side of a cracking finish to the awardsandgifts.ie Novice Hurdle over two and a half miles.
A mark of 127 appeared to leave the Simon Munir and Isaac Souede-owned gelding with work to do but the five-year-old produced much his best effort since going jumping while also displaying a fine attitude.
Bronn was hampered when his stablemate Arctic Warrior took a fatal fall at the third last but he recovered well and held every chance in a share of the lead when jumping the second last.
At this point Churchstonewarrior and Falcon Eight were both firmly in the reckoning and the outcome still hung in the balance at the last. Bronn held a narrow lead jumping that flight and he maintained this slender advantage to carry the day by half a length with Falcon Eight a further neck away in third.
“I was surprised how well he was still going to the second last and then Danny got a good jump from him at the last. He’ll be entered for Punchestown,” stated Mullins.
Another blacktype event to fall the champion trainer’s way was the BoyleSports-sponsored mares’ listed chase over just short of two and three-quarter miles where Dolcita justified evens favouritism.
The Sullivan Bloodstock-owned seven-year-old produced a marvellous and enthusiastic display from the front and one by one her rivals cracked. The outsider Hurricane Georgie was given a canny ride by Jack Kennedy and finished with great purpose from the last but the line arrived just in time for Dolcita to score by a head.
“It was a gutsy ride and she’s a very game mare. I’d say it’s very pleasing to ride a horse like her who gives you so much. There is a Grade 2 mares’ chase in Punchestown that Elimay goes for and this mare will probably have to get an entry and join her,” remarked Mullins.
Leavy singing with another sweet victory
DANNY Mullins also rode a winner for his mother, Margaret, as Song Of Earth rounded off a spectacular weekend for owner Kieran Leavy. The previous afternoon the Portarlington man’s colours were carried to victory by Haziya at Leopardstown and Song Of Earth captured the 0-116 rated handicap chase over two and three-quarter miles.
The seven-year-old picked off the game Bold Emperor before the final fence and went on defeat that rival by five lengths. The winner’s previous wins had come with heavy ground in the going description but he looked right at home on this better surface.
Dorans Weir looks by some distance the best prospect Michal Hourigan has had through his hands in the last number of years as she kept a five-strong Willie Mullins challenge at bay in the Listed Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares INH Flat Race.
A Thurles bumper success and an unlucky second to The Nice Guy at Leopardstown at Christmas, marked out this Tom Doran-owned homebred as a real prospect and she confirmed that view here under Eoin O’Brien.
The 9/2 shot was vying for the lead turning for home, soon held the outright lead and then maintained a good tempo all the way to the line to defeat Pink In The Park by a length and a quarter.
“She’s a good mare and I’m lucky to have her. She will keep me going for another few years,” stated Hourigan. “We’ll look at the Grade 3 mares’ bumper at Punchestown with her and if she doesn’t go there she will be going on her holidays.”
Back to form
A 28/1 surprise was lying in wait in the 80-116 rated two-mile mares’ handicap hurdle where Irregularheartbeat returned to form to win her first race in just under a year.
After struggling somewhat over fences lately, the Seamus Spillane-trained mare looked right at home on her return to the smaller obstacles.
Denis O’Regan had her showing in front turning for home and the nine-year-old kept on in very willing fashion to retain her lead for the duration of the straight.
At the line the winner, who is owned by her breeder Geraldine Fitzgerald, had a neck spare over Marvel Fan.