THE talented St Stephens Green provided Emmet Mullins with his biggest success as a trainer as he put it all together to land the valuable Redweld Stables Handicap Hurdle.
Although he hadn’t been at his best on his last couple of runs over timber, St Stephens Green was returning to a track that has provided him with his only previous triumph over hurdles. His efforts last summer also included an excellent second to Heartbreak City in a handicap hurdle at Galway.
The David Mullins-ridden St Stephens Green enjoyed a smooth run through the race on the inner before putting himself into contention as the runners filed into the straight. The 16/1 chance wasn’t too fluent at the second last but still came away from that flight with a useful lead which he maintained to defeat Chambord Du Lys by three lengths and a quarter.
“He got a fall at Punchestown last October and since then he’s been disappointing with his jumping but after his last run I got some advice from Willie (Mullins) which I listened to,” said the trainer. “As he’s owned by the Mee family all roads will lead to Galway. Hopefully, he’ll run in the amateur riders’ flat handicap on the Monday night and then he could go for a hurdle race later in the week.”
As expected Willie Mullins dominated the outcome of the Listed Irish Wire Products Mares Hurdle where the Ruby Walsh-ridden Asthuria led home stablemate Good Thyne Tara. Asthuria had six and a half lengths to spare over her rival at Punchestown late last month and it was a similar story here with the 8/11 favourite prevailing by four lengths.
On a couple of occasions last season Asthuria’s jumping cost her valuable blacktype but she made no such mistake this time.
From early in the straight, the front-runner was holding Good Thyne Tara and assured jumps at the last couple of flights sealed the outcome.
“She’s upheld the Punchestown form with the runner-up and she was giving her 7lb this time,” remarked Walsh whose mount is owned by George Creighton. “It’s a nice pot to win and even though my one has fallen a couple of times over hurdles I think fences are what she wants.”
Joseph O’Brien and J.P. McManus have plenty to look forward to this summer with Le Richebourg whose first venture over jumps in the Sika Signs Maiden Hurdle was an impressive one.
This four-year-old started his career with two good bumpers runs, the second of which saw him chase home the high class Debuchet at Leopardstown, and was fully entitled to go off the 15/8 favourite under Mark Walsh.
Le Richebourg jumped well, relished the decent ground and quickened away impressively from High School Days to score by a dozen lengths. “He jumped well for a horse having his first run over hurdles,” observed the owner’s racing manager Frank Berry. “He likes that better ground so we will tip away with him for the summer.”
Cornelius Sulla (4/1-11/4) made it a double for O’Brien in the Jim Ryan Racecourse Services-sponsored bumper. This tough four-year-old was having his eighth run and was a deserving victor after reaching the frame in some decent bumpers in recent weeks.
Sarah O’Brien made all the running on the Soldier Of Fortune gelding, who is owned by her mother Annemarie, and the pair maintained an unfaltering tempo in the straight to finish four lengths ahead of The Princetonian.
The Galway Plate remains the target for Stephen Mahon’s Champagne Harmony as he made it two wins from his last three outings in the Killarney Outlook Publications Novice Chase.
The 2/1 favourite raced somewhat lazily but had plenty left in reserve for the closing stages and he surged past the front-running Dicosimo after the penultimate fence before a five and a half lengths triumph.
“The Galway Plate is still the aim but it’s a work in progress,” reported Mahon who trains the gelding for his stalwart patron Tom Quinn.
“He learnt from his run at Punchestown (fifth to Woodland Opera) and he’s a lazy type of horse so he might have a run over hurdles before Galway to sharpen him up.”
The capable hurdler Ask Nile (18/1-10/1) gave trainer Seamus Neville his second winner in four days in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase.
The conclusion of this extended two-mile contest served up its share of drama as the front-running Lion In His Heart veered left and went off the track when still holding the lead after the second last fence.
His exit still left a well grouped leading bunch doing battle for victory but nothing could match chasing newcomer Ask Nile who stayed on strongly from the last to defeat Gwencily Berbas by four lengths and three quarters. The winner could be aimed towards Galway.
Danny Mullins, who sustained a nasty facial injury in a fall in the opener, was rewarded for his decision to ride on as he teamed up with Dark Outsider to take the Irish Examiner Handicap Chase. Patsio, Not For You and Dark Outsider came to the final fence locked in battle before the Bayshaven Syndicate-owned gelding asserted on the run in to prevail by a length and a half.
“He was coming here off a break but he has run well off a break in the past,” declared James Dullea whose string are in good heart at present. “He got a great ride from Danny and he’ll go for something similar again, possibly at Tramore. He’s one that might it between hurdles and fences this summer.”
J.P. McManus and Mark Walsh also ended the day with a double as Act In Time (100/30) captured the Killarney Towers Hotel Maiden on his first run since December. The 109-rated gelding, who showed up well in a couple of maidens last autumn, flew the second last flight to open up a useful advantage that saw him finish four and a half lengths clear of Line Out.
“He jumped well and handled the ground so he’ll stay going for the summer. He could go for a handicap next and we might look at going chasing with him down the line,” commented Frank Berry.
P. Barry, S. McDonogh, M. Doyle, H. Hynes
Horse To Follow
HIGH SCHOOL DAYS (H. de Bromhead): This filly improved on her unplaced hurdling debut in January to take second in the maiden won by Le Richebourg. A maiden hurdle success can come her way.
DAVY Russell was given a one-day suspension after weighing on 1.6lbs overweight on Miss Eyecatcher who was fourth in the mares’ hurdle.
Problems in- running
LAGOSTOVEGAS, who was pulled up when favourite for the featured handicap hurdle, was reported to have jumped poorly and clipped heels in running.
In the same race Light That was reported never to have travelled and to have been struck into behind.