ON what turned into a day of days for Gordon Elliott the trainer brought up a 21,293/1 opening-day four-timer as newcomer Absolute Notions displayed more than a hint of top-drawer potential in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper.
The Micheal Conaghan-owned son of Milan travelled very nicely through the race for Declan Lavery and was conspicuous by the ease with which he was going as the runners neared the straight. When Lavery asked his mount to pick up the response was impressive as Absolute Notions cut down the front-running Miss Agusta to score by six and a half lengths.
“I liked what he had shown us at home but he was very babyish and I really didn’t think he’d know enough to do that, but he’s obviously a very nice horse and he’s going to be an exciting one to go novice hurdling with next season,” stated Elliott.
Earlier Elliott’s former Grade 1-winner Felix Desjy ended a lengthy spell in the wilderness in the Grade B Killashee Hotel Handicap Hurdle. The nine-year-old looked a shadow of himself earlier in the season but a switch back from chasing and waiting tactics have enabled the 11/1 shot to steadily recapture some form.
Despite unplaced efforts on his last two outings Felix Desjy had shaped better than the final result and he took a further step forward under a masterful Jack Kennedy.
The latter bided his time off the pace and was at pains not to show his mount daylight until after the last. This worked the oracle as Felix Desjy forged past Tax For Max on the run in before holding off Farout by three parts of a length.
“Jack was brilliant. He rode him at Fairyhouse last time and felt he saw a bit too much daylight in the straight so he said he was going to wait longer with him today,” stated Elliott.
“Earlier in his career you couldn’t ride him like that but he’s much more settled now and I’d say he likes being covered up and being in amongst horses. I’d imagine we will aim for the Galway Hurdle now.”
Elliott got off the mark with his first runner of the week as the talented Party Central completed an industrious season in the Listed Howden Insurance Brookers Mares Novice Hurdle.
Already successful in a Grade A handicap hurdle at Leopardstown and a listed event at this track in December, the Bective Stud-owned mare turned out fresh and well at the end of season that began at Listowel in September. Party Central (9/4) travelled powerfully for Davy Russell before improving to challenge and head the front running Instit at the final flight. As is her wont she didn’t do much when she struck the front, but she still reached the line with a length and a half to spare over Instit.
“That was brilliant, especially for Noel and Valerie (Moran) and I think decent ground makes a big difference to her, I’m not sure she will ever be one for the depths of the winter,” remarked the trainer. “We haven’t discussed what we might do next season but I see no reason why she wouldn’t jump a fence.”
in Ladies Cup
VITAL Island (7/2), who is owned and trained by Taghmon-based Ritchie O’Keeffe, improved on last year’s runner-up finish to land the Kildare Hunt Club Cross Country Chase Ladies Cup.
As he has done in the past the victorious 10-year-old showed a fine aptitude for negotiating the myriad of obstacles that confronted the runners, and he showed lots of heart when it mattered too. The Willie Mullins-trained favourite Good Bye Sam looked to be arriving with a telling effort on the run to the last but Vital Island fought on valiantly for Benny Walsh to carry the day by half a length. Vital Island went on to run again in the La Touche on Wednesday but he unseated midway through the contest.
Another good day at Punchestown for Willie Mullins concluded with a one-two for the trainer in the Mick The Tent Flat Race as Lisnagar Fortune (11/4) and Patrick Mullins bested fellow newcomer Vadsa Queen. When the half-brother to Lisnagar Oscar found his best stride in the straight he finished out his race in fine style and surged to the front in the closing stages to score by four lengths.
“He was as green as grass and it took him all day to learn how to gallop but he hit the line strongly and looks a very nice prospect,” remarked the trainer who trains this promising son of Soldier Of Fortune for his breeder, Denis Fitzgerald.
Harry Sexton, who rode the unplaced Storm Barra, was handed a 21-day suspension by the stewards as a result of contravening the whip rules for frequency, use when out of contention and giving his mount time to respond.