WILLIE Mullins continued in irresistible form when bagging a treble at the rescheduled Fairyhouse meeting on Wednesday.
The champion trainer saddled the two horses at the head of the market in the opening beginners’ chase and it was 9/4 shot Chavez who proved much the best in the two-miler.
Danny Mullins, stepping in for the unwell Paul Townend, nursed his mount through some sticky jumping early on before sending him clear after the second last for a 25-length success.
“It was a good performance. Maybe he just lost a bit of confidence the last day (unseated at first in Down Royal) but it came back through the race as he warmed up,” said the winning rider, in the colours of Malcolm Denmark.
“It was a good bit of placing, typical of Willie and the team at home. It’s nice to get the job done.”
The second leg was also comfortable viewing for winning connections as In Excess landed the two-mile maiden hurdle for the Slaneyville Syndicate.
Sean O’Keeffe was always prominent on the 4/9 shot and he kicked on over the second last to post a 11-length victory over Birdie Or Bust.
Mullins was on hand to see that win and said afterwards: “He was keen enough during the race but I was very happy with the way he quickened after the second last as I thought he’d done a lot of work at that stage.
“He jumped well and, to win by 11 lengths from where he was at the second last, I thought it was a good performance on very testing ground.
“He’s a horse that could move up to graded class. I don’t know where we’ll go next, I’d like to find a winners of one or a listed race maybe. I’d imagine he will get entries (for Cheltenham) and we’ll see how he goes between now and then.”
Mullins is also eyeing some nice spring prizes for Hauturiere after she gained a deserved victory in the HAY ‘How Are Ya’ Campaign Mares Maiden Hurdle.
Danny Mullins was in the plate again this time and produced the 11/10 favourite wide to lead going to the second last. She quickened away before the final flight for a 15-length win.
“I’ve always thought a nice bit of her but was disappointed we hadn’t got her head in front,” commented the winning trainer. “Today she got her head in front on very testing ground and she’ll probably stay much further,” added Mullins, who trains the winner for Dr Peter FitzGerald.
“I don’t know if she’s good enough but she’ll probably get an entry in the Grade 1 here at Easter. She has a lot of experience to go to the mares’ novice hurdle in Cheltenham.
“It’s hard to know how much she’ll improve for the rest of the season, I’m hoping she will improve.”
Brag plays his cards right
THE Gordon Elliott-trained Three Card Brag could be Cheltenham bound after producing a powerful front-running performance to land the novice hurdle on the card.
Adrian Heskin came over to ride the 8/11 shot for the McNeill family and he bounced out to make it a test in the extended two miles and three furlongs contest.
The Jet Away gelding was ridden to settle matters before the last and stayed on strongly for a 12-length success over Spanish Harlem.
Assistant Ian ‘Busty’ Amond said: “Adrian said going out that he’d probably make it on him because he wants further down the line.
“He’s a nice horse and he stays at it well. It probably wasn’t ideal having to do it because he’s lazy but he said he picked up and the further he went the better he was.
“He’s a laid-back lad. Adrian said he will be better over a trip with a lead but today it was the right thing to jump out, make it on him and keep it simple. It worked out well.”
Judge kept busy with tight finishes
THERE was a rare dead-heat to end proceedings as Dragon’s Pass flashed home to join Pana To Milan at the line in the concluding handicap hurdle over two miles and three furlongs.
The pair came close going to the last as 50/1 shot Pana To Milan (owned by Leave Him Alone Syndicate) edged slightly left in the lead. Dragon’s Pass (14/1) switched to his inner and rallied to share the spoils.
The former’s trainer Mick Winters wasn’t present but Denise Foster, trainer of Dragon’s Pass said: “I’m absolutely delighted with her, it’s her first run of the season. She had been showing lots at home.
“She’s a bit of a mad hatter but at home she’s been really relaxed and happy. She loves that ground and Sean (Flanagan) gave her a great ride. He knows her well and it’s good to see him back.” She carried the colours of the late Peter Newell.
The preceding Treo Eile Maiden Hurdle was another thriller with Maggie Walsh lunging late to gain the narrowest of wins.
In-form claimer Cian Quirke got a great tune from the Michael Bowe-trained mare as the 10/1 chance chased down 4/9 favourite So Des Flos to pip him by a nose at the line, for brother John.
“That’s not just ride of the year, it’s ride of the century,” said Michael Bowe afterwards. “I said to him ‘Cian I’m giving you no instructions, you do what you feel like’. It’s the first time I’ve said it to him and I won’t be giving him any instructions from now on. “I’ve always believed in her, she’s a marvellous work mare at home. Today she showed just a glimpse of what she can do. Maybe she’ll improve and maybe she won’t but she’s a nice mare to have anyway.”
The handicap chase earlier on the card also produced a good duel with The Tack Room landing the spoils for John Kiely and J.P. McManus.
Simon Torrens produced the 3/1 shot to lead narrowly two from home and he edged the verdict by three-parts of a length from a determined Sweet Will.
Kiely, saddling his first winner since last June, said: “It’s nice to be back in the winner’s enclosure, it’s been a while.
“He was a bit unlucky in Limerick. He would have gone close there, whether or not he’d have won I don’t know. The mistake did take a bit out of him. Hopefully he can collect another one.”