OWNERS Albert Dravins and Eamonn Scanlon were represented by one of the juvenile stars of last season in Jeff Kidder and they could have another quality one on their hands in Ben Siegel who impressed in the William Hill Ireland 3-Y-O Hurdle.
Noel Meade’s charge progressed really well on the flat in the second half of the year when he won twice and was placed three times from five starts, and he took very well to this discipline.
The 4/1 chance was always nicely placed for Bryan Cooper and eased to the front turning for home before readily opening up a commanding lead which saw him run out an easy four-and-a-half-length winner over the staying-on Prairie Dancer.
“He’s a nice horse who probably wants goodish ground. All he wanted to do was jump from the moment we started schooling him which is a big help. I’d say he will head on to Leopardstown over Christmas,” reported Noel Meade.
Adrian Heskin, who is the McNeill family’s retained rider, made the journey across the Irish Sea a worthwhile one as he teamed up with his employer’s I A Connect (9/2) in the William Hill Ireland Hurdle over two miles.
A steady improver for Gordon Elliott, the six-year-old has now won three of his last four starts and he produced a nice effort from the front. A good jump at the last enabled him to shake off Authorized Art and that looked to have made sure of victory, but I A Connect was almost caught at unawares by Surprise Package who finished with a great flourish to get to within a nose at the line.
“As Adrian said afterwards, he’ll be a better horse going further and with a fence in front of him. He’s coming along well though and we mightn’t ask him to do too much more between now and the final of the Red Mills Auction Hurdle Series back here in April,” stated Gordon Elliott.
After just losing out with Surprise Package, Peter Fahey and his American-based owner Paul Leech struck with Freedom To Dream in the Connolly’s Red Mills EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle.
On his first outing since chasing home Appreciate It in a Leopardstown bumper 23 months ago, Freedom To Dream was produced by Kevin Sexton to head Sam’s Choice nearing the last flight.
The French-bred son of Secret Singer went on to defeat that rival by half a length in what looked a strong auction maiden hurdle as the third-placed Life In The Park showed lots in his sole point-to-point outing while the fourth-placed Hunters Yarn was returned at odds-on to build on his wide-margin Thurles bumper win last March
Busselton gets punters off to winning start
THE card got off to a winning start for punters as the tough four-year-old Busselton made it three wins from six starts over fences in the William Hill-sponsored rated novice chase over just short of two and a half miles.
The 13/8 favourite won a match race at Cork last time but found this a good deal tougher and J.J. Slevin had to administer a couple of reminders to Joseph O’Brien’s charge with just over a circuit to run.
At various stages Busselton appeared to be struggling but he dug in well and stayed in touch with the leaders.
This left the Chanelle Pharma-owned gelding with a fighting chance and despite finding himself tight for room at the last fence, an incident which saw the runner-up jockey Darragh O’Keeffe given a three-day improper riding ban .
He came with a strong rally to pick off the front running Indiana Jones and went on to prevail by three-parts of a length
“J.J. said he was flat out all the way. He’ll probably end up staying three miles one day, but he’s only a four-year-old. He’s a very genuine horse,” remarked Brendan Powell.
Back with a win
After enduring a narrow defeat with Indiana Jones in the opener, the Robcour colours were back in the winner’s enclosure when Grand Jury (2/7) bagged the William Hill Ireland Maiden Hurdle.
Henry de Bromhead’s charge was sent off at 2/7 on his first run since finishing fourth in a bumper here last April won by Dysart Dynamo and he had to work somewhat for this victory as the front-running Ardla took some subduing.
Grand Jury responded to Rachael Blackmore’s promptings to get on top on the run-in and carry the day by a length and a half.
“He had to work fairly hard but Rachael was happy and I’d say two miles is short enough for him on that ground,” stated de Bromhead who indicated his charge could get a couple of Grade 1 entries over the festive period.
McNally’s Class lands gamble again
ALL Class who won three times for David Dunne earlier this year, including when landing a monster gamble on the flat at Navan in March, made her second start for Ronan McNally a winning one in what turned out to be a decidedly uncompetitive 0-102 rated William Hill Ireland Handicap Chase over an extended three miles. This mare was beaten 70 lengths in a flat handicap at Gowran on her debut for the McNally yard but was backed from 4/1 into 13/8 on track, so a much better effort was evidently expected.
Hardly anything got involved in this race as Capture The Drama tore off into a clear after a couple of fences. The Donagh Meyler-ridden All Class was the only to take up meaningful pursuit while the main group raced some way in arears.
All Class eventually took charge of this race on the approach to the straight and went on to defeat the pace setter by some 23 lengths. A running-and-riding enquiry was held into the efforts of all the runners apart from the first two home and the explanations of all riders were noted.
There was a 33/1 surprise later on the card as Betterask JJ returned from a year off to land the first division of the William Hill-sponsored 80-95 rated.
In a race that seemed to suit those ridden patiently, Betterask JJ had moved into a closing fourth when he clouted the last. This matter little to Ambrose McCurtin’s mount though as he charged home to strike the front and he was going away at the line where he had five and a half lengths to spare. The winning rider was hit with a seven-day whip ban.
The second division of that handicap hurdle went to Philip Rothwell and James O’Sullivan as Robindevidastar (12/1) made a winning return from 11 months off. The Philomena Shanahan-owned gelding kept on tenaciously from the turn-in to defeat Different Beat by half a length.