Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1)
HOME By The Lee showed that Ireland might have a new Paisley Park in the staying division with a convincing victory for the in-form Joseph O’Brien at generous odds of 7/1.
Paisley Park, who brought the house down on Monday at Kempton, is well-known for his powerful finish and Home By The Lee is emerging as a serious prospect himself, supplementing his Lismullen Hurdle win with another convincing success at the chief expense of the game Ashdale Bob, who nearly provided Keith Donoghue with a third Grade 1 success.
Home By The Lee was given a really positive ride by Slevin. Usually a lazy performer, he seemed to expend little energy to join the pacesetting Flooring Porter three out. From then on it rested between the winner, Flooring Porter and Ashdale Bob, with Slevin’s mount powerful in the final 100 yards and pulling three lengths clear of the Jessica Harrington-trained charge.
It was not a race Danny Mullins will recall with fondness. He eased off on Flooring Porter close home, losing third to the progressive 50/1 chance Meet And Greet, but the 2/1 chance’s trainer Gavin Cromwell is far from despondent about his chance of three Stayers’ Hurdles in a row come Cheltenham.
He was pushed out to 8/1 for the race with Bet365, with the Sean O’Driscoll-owned Home By The Lee introduced at 6/1 for the March 16th contest. There was disappointment for backers of Bob Olinger, the gambled-on favourite finding little for Rachael Blackmore in fifth.
“Normally he’s not able to lie up with others but he was going easily today,” commented winning trainer Joseph O’Brien.
“I was actually worried how well he was travelling through the race because he never does travel well. I thought he was going to waste too much energy travelling and jumping well but he’s a real good stayer.”
Slevin, who was full of praise too for Monday’s winner High Definition, said: “Home By The Lee was sweet today and hopefully the best is yet to come.
“He travelled better than normal. He can be a bit claustrophobic when horses are around him but he did that very easily. He saves himself for the end of his races.”
Danny Mullins received a five-day ban and forfeited his riding fee. Cromwell told The Irish Field: “In hindsight, Danny possibly didn’t go fast enought and it was steadily run. Obviously he should have been third but he picked up through the line so we are happy enough on the whole. For him, it’s all about Cheltenham.”