GORDON Elliott reached 100 winners for the Irish jumps season when saddling a near 35/1 four-timer including Queens Brook in the Listed Frontline Security Grabel Mares Hurdle.
The Bective Stud-owned mare put an odds-on defeat on her reappearance at Limerick last month behind her in this two-miles-two-furlong event and drew clear along with the front-running Heaven Help Us from over half a mile out.
The 8/15 favourite took control early in the straight and stayed on strongly under Jack Kennedy to score by six lengths, with Copper Nation a further 11 lengths away in third.
Elliott said: “I was happy with her and thought it was a good performance. I can’t get her fit and you can see the size of her again today. We’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place not being fit and she probably wants further.
“I said to Jack that we have to make use of her and hopefully her class comes out. She’ll only have one or two more runs between now and Cheltenham.”
Absolute Notions caused a 25/1 shock when decisively landing the valuable Goffs Land Rover Bumper here in April and he confirmed that good impression when switched to hurdles in the O’Connor Heating & Plumbing Supporting Longford GAA Maiden Hurdle.
The Robcour-owned gelding was sent off the 11/8 favourite against 21 rivals and responded to Kennedy’s urgings by stretching clear after the last to beat Deep Cave by three and three quarter lengths.
“Jack said he had a bit of a blow at the second last and he showed a very good attitude from the last to the line. I was happy with him,” said the master of Cullentra House.
“He doesn’t show a thing at home, he’s very laid back. When you take him away, he shows a little bit more but not much. I’d say that distance (extended two miles, three furlongs) is a bare minimum and I’d imagine the further he goes the better he goes.”
Kennedy, who holds a healthy lead of 21 at this mid-point of the National Hunt season, brought his tally to 57 winners when completing a treble aboard 11/4 favourite Jungle Prose in the three-mile Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle.
The Yeats mare, raised 24lb for wins at Thurles and Down Royal, also drew clear on the run-in for an easy nine-length victory over Ballyglass Beauty.
Elliott said: “I don’t know where we are going to go now but she’s going the right way. Jack said the further she went the better she got and we’ll probably have to look at qualifying her for the Pertemps.
“They are a good bunch of local lads (Bull On Syndicate, featued in Heart of Racing, page 17), friends of Robbie Power, and they had Jury Duty before.”
Caldwell Potter capped a great day for the Meath trainer in the Irish Mirror (Pro/Am) Flat Race with the 13/8 shot driven clear from over a furlong out by Jamie Codd to beat stablemate Cardamon Hill by seven and a half lengths.
“We fancied him for the Land Rover Bumper but he just fell apart.
“He looked a lot stronger walking around in the ring today and I’d say we’ll go jumping hurdles with him now,” said Elliott of the Caldwell Construction-owned gelding.
Midnight gains deserved success
MIDNIGHT Run gained reward for his consistency when taking the featured Grade 2 Oak Lodge Landscapes Craddockstown Novice Chase.
The well-backed 7/4 shot put in a fine round of jumping and took control under Bryan Cooper from early in the straight to beat Mars Harper by an easy nine lengths. The Gigginstown-owned gelding had his task eased when 6/4 favourite Hallowed Star fell four out.
“In fairness, he always turns up and runs his race,” said trainer Joseph O’Brien. “He deserved to get his head in front and it’s great to win a graded race with him.
“Bryan said it was as good as he ever felt him jumping as he has been inclined to make an odd mistake. I thought he gave him a great ride and used his experience. He can mix it between graded races and nice handicaps like the Dan Moore wherever the ground isn’t heavy.”
Cooper doubled up aboard The Model Kingdom in the Sebden Steel Rated Novice Hurdle. The 7/4 favourite jumped to lead at the last and asserted to beat Halibut by four and a quarter lengths.
“I’d have been disappointed if she didn’t win when I saw the weight,” Noel Meade said. “I only put her in to get the mark and then when I saw it I said we have to run. I don’t know where she will go now as she’s had two quick runs. She relaxed a bit better today and he gave her a beautiful ride.”
Solo show for smart Kilcruit
MUCH of the interest in the Lily & Wild Beginners Chase was removed when Journey With Me was withdrawn due to the going (yielding) leaving Kilcruit to go off a red-hot 1/5 favourite.
The classy son of Stowaway, trained by Willie Mullins for Margaret Masterson, jumped well for Paul Townend and stretched clear from front-runner Willywampus after two out for an easy nine-and-a-half-length success.
Mullins said: “I’m delighted and he did what he had to do. He jumped very well and we probably didn’t learn a lot except that it looks like he’s taken to fences really well.
“I think he’s a stronger horse than last year. It was like a good schooling session with a lead horse. I think he’s going to enjoy jumping fences better than hurdles.”
Townend was also impressed saying: “He showed a lovely attitude towards fences and I just love the way he was looking for the next fence and wanted to take it on.
“He had a blow and will come on from it. I think sitting on him it felt like he’s filled out as well and hopefully this will be his year.”