AN excellent few days in Killarney for Willie Mullins yielded a final day four-timer at the August Festival which concluded with a victory for Rock Road and Brian Hayes in the €45,000 Tote Always SP Or Better Handicap Chase.

This 10-year-old has only got to run seven times for the champion trainer but he has certainly been making up for lost time this season.

This latest Grade B success came hot on the heels of a Galway Festival success while earlier in the season the Bowes Lodge Stables Partnership-owned gelding had won the Mayo National.

As he dropped back to two and a half miles, the 11/4 favourite was never that far away from the pace although there were times in the race where he gave the impression that the distance was perhaps as sharp as he would like.

However, Brian Hayes looked to have him perfectly placed in behind the leaders as they faced up to the last three fences.

At the last, Rock Road was produced to challenge the front-running The Dara Man and he took that one’s measure on the run-in to score by a length and a half from the staying-on Exit Poll with Ferdia taking third.

“I had won on him in the past for Michael Bowe and when he was finished with the horse he recommended him to me. I recommended him to Patrick Mullins who got an owner for him and he has since won four times. He has been a good horse for the yard,” said Hayes.

“I was flat out today and was barely hanging in there but he threw in a good jump at the fifth last and it got him into the race and I was able to fill him up turning-in. His ability kicked in up the home straight.”

Uncle Phil got the day off to a winning start for Mullins in the International Hotel Killarney Maiden Hurdle over two miles.

The Marie Donnelly-owned Kilbeggan bumper winner was showing in front for Bryan Cooper with a circuit to run and jumped well which was central to this victory.

Fluent leap

The 6/4 favourite produced a much more fluent leap at the final flight than The Last Mardi when the latter was trying to close in, and he then lasted home to see off Hashtag Pretender by half a length, with The Last Mardi a further three-parts of a length back.

“I was happy to take a lead initially as he can be forward going but once I got to the front I was able to park up on the rail and he jumped very well. He stuck it out well and there will be plenty of fun to be had with him,” stated Cooper.

Mullins picks up two more wins

THE Mullins four-timer also featured a double for his nephew, Danny, who struck first on Finest Evermore in the Failte Hotel, Bar, Restaurant Handicap Hurdle.

This talented Turner Family-owned daughter of Yeats was running a big race in a major handicap at Galway only for a mistake at the third last to bring her race to a halt.

Compensation awaited here though as she defied top-weight in willing style. The 9/2 joint favourite began to get on top for Danny Mullins after two out and she bravely withstood the late charge of Alvaro to succeed by a short-head.

“It was a good performance from a small mare under a big weight. She showed there that she has plenty of heart and she’s one who will be competitive at the festivals later in the season,” stated Mullins.

Danny Mullins was also on board Authorized Art (6/4) who impressed in a well-contested M.L. Lynch Civil Engineering Limited Novice Chase over two and a half miles.

This Nicholas Peacock-owned gelding was an impressive winner of a Limerick beginners’ event last month and once again looked the part with an accomplished effort from the front.

The seven-year-old dominated this race throughout the final half mile and he went on to register a resounding 11-length success over Call Me Lyreen.

“I had ridden him over hurdles and he was always a fantastic jumper but he lacked a bit of tactical speed, but the scope he shows over fences is enabling him to reach new heights,” commented the winning rider.

Marvellous Marine outclasses rivals

THE day belonged to Willie Mullins but perhaps the best performance on the card came from the Barry Connell-trained and owned Marine Nationale (4/6) in the Jim Ryan Race Services (Pro/Am) Flat Race.

This five-year-old son of French Navy won a smart-looking Punchestown bumper on his debut in late May and totally outclassed his three rivals here.

Mikey O’Sullivan’s mount eased to the front early in the straight and then sauntered clear at his leisure to run out a very smooth 11-length winner over My Gaffer.

“He did what I expected and probably hasn’t done any more than he did at Punchestown. He looks a decent prospect,” stated Connell.

“We’ll look for a maiden hurdle now and I have the Royal Bond Hurdle at the back of my mind, if we can get a maiden hurdle and maybe a Grade 3 beforehand.”

Andy Slattery made it two winners in as many days at the August Festival as Whosgotyanow (7/2) claimed a dramatic triumph in the Killarney Towers Hotel Beginners Chase over an extended two miles.

The Cian Quirke-ridden winner came to the last locked in battle with the 11/10 favourite Vina Ardanza. The latter took off fractionally in front but knuckled on landing and came down.


This left the Dr Ronan Tynan-owned mare to score by a length and a quarter and record the third success of her career.

Afterwards the winning owner and his colleague Anthony Kearns gave an impromptu performance in the parade ring which was met with universal acclaim by the packed enclosure.

Perhaps the best finish of the day came when Eoin McCarthy’s 4/1 favourite Shannon Gray edged out Western Doyen in the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.

Shannon Gray and Gary Noonan came through to take charge of this race after two out but the Cloudings mare blundered at the last which gave Western Doyen another chance.

A bobbing finish ensued on the run-in, but the Mark Quaid-owned mare held on by a head to deliver on a couple of promising efforts in defeat lately.

“It’s great for Mark who is into breeding and has the dam and now this mare is a winner.

“We’ll see what the handicapper does but she might be one to go across to England,” declared McCarthy.