ON a day when the form of the Willie Mullins string struck an ominous chord ahead of the busy festive period, the trainer enjoyed a treble which featured a highly impressive hurdling debut from Bandy Love in the BetVictor-sponsored mares’ maiden hurdle.

A commanding winner at Fairyhouse a year ago and then placed in a Grade 2 bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival, this Mike Grech-owned daughter of Jet Away signalled that she has a big future over jumps.

The 4/5 favourite made most of the running, jumped well on the whole and coasted home by 10 lengths under Paul Townend as she prevailed in the manner of one who will shortly be making her mark at graded level.

“She jumps and gallops and the way she jumped there you’d know she came from the point-to-point field. She’s done that very well and you’d have to say she looks a mare with a very nice future,” remarked Townend.

The Mullins-trained Gaillard Du Mesnil, a dual Grade 1 winner over hurdles last term, was a 4/11 shot to land the BetVictor-sponsored beginners’ chase over two miles, three furlongs but he had to settle for third behind stablemate Capodanno.

The J.P. McManus-owned winner, aboard whom Jody McGarvey replaced Mark Walsh (wrist injury), did especially well to win as he was down on his nose at the second last.

Capodanno (4/1) looked set for a minor role at best at this point but he raised another effort early on the run-in and came with a great flourish to nail Embrun Mitja in the final strides.

A length and a quarter separated the front pair at the finish with the favourite a further three-parts of a length back in third. The winner was making his first appearance since hosing up off a mark of 132 in a Grade B handicap hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.

Come back

“I thought he did tremendously well to come back and win what looked a good beginners’ chase after that mistake at the second last. It looks like he is going to be a better chaser than a hurdler,” reflected the trainer.

“Gaillard Du Mesnil might just have needed the run and I’m sure he will come on from this.”

The champion trainer could also have a nice type on his hands in the McManus-owned Hawai Game (8/11) who landed the BetVictor-sponsored four-year-old maiden hurdle over two and a quarter miles.

A €90,000 purchase just over a year ago after making a winning debut on the flat at Senonnes, the Diamond Boy gelding was ridden by Paul Townend after he stepped in for Mark Walsh.

Hawai Game was keen initially and a little novicey at the first couple of flights but he then warmed to his task and won nicely. The half-brother to Easy Game never came under strong pressure to defeat the winning pointer Daily Present by three and a quarter lengths and should improve substantially from this experience.

Cromwell’s Gamble landed with Excellence

ON his first outing since March, Gavin Cromwell’s Routine Excellence pulled off a gamble in the maiden hurdle confined to horses who had never been placed.

The Eoin Hughes-owned gelding, who was last seen competing off a mark of 90 in a Downpatrick handicap chase, was as big as 33/1 when betting on this race opened but was returned at the dramatically shorter price of 11/4 at the off.

Keith Donoghue’s mount came under pressure to raise his effort between the last two flights but the market leader had responded and took off in front at the last where the fall of the challenging Bonnie Kellie left him to come home four and a half lengths clear of Salmanino.

“He hadn’t run since March and came back in a different horse. I thought he’d go close today,” surmised Cromwell.

The card concluded with an interesting BetVictor-sponsored bumper which yielded a deserved success for Noel Meade’s Killer Mode.

After runner-up efforts behind Kilcruit and Itswhatunitesus in two of his three outings prior to this, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old was a worthy winner and he achieved his success in likeable fashion under Harry Swan.

The 100/30 shot struck the front in the last furlong for a half-length triumph over Nonbinding.

“I’m delighted to see him win because that was his last shot at a bumper and he’d run into a few smart horses. He’ll go hurdling in January and he has schooled well,” reported Meade.

Saga success as stewards take action

THE stewards swung into action after the John Thomas McNamara Series (Q.R.) Handicap Hurdle resulting in amateur Kate Derwin being hit with a 10-day ban after a running and riding enquiry into My Boy Bob who finished an eye catching third.

The rider was found to be in breach of Rule 212A (ii) by riding her horse in a way that her horse could not be seen to have been the subject of a genuine attempt to obtain a timely, real and substantial effort to achieve the best possible placing. There was no ban for the horse. Tony Martin’s explanation was noted.

Victory went to Paul Nolan’s Saga Aravis (15/2) who was continuing a good season for his trainer who was making it 18 victories for the campaign. Rob James made all the running on the five-year-old who stayed going to defeat Mahler Storm by five lengths for the Enniscorthy-based Buzzer Racing Syndicate.

Front-running tactics also worked well for Grainne O’Connor’s Brandy Harbour (4/1) in the 0-102 Clinton Higgins Chartered Accountants Handicap Chase.

A 12-raced maiden coming into this contest, the seven-year-old looked to have this race under control with Denis O’Regan despite an awkward jump at the last. The Latin Partnership-owned winner had 13 lengths to spare. “The owners are local lads so it’s a fabulous day. We told Denis today to buck him out and go as hard as he could. It’s great because Denis has been good to me down the years,” said t trainer’s husband Paurick.