JACK Kennedy and Paul Townend both rode winners at Naas as the former kept his lead at four in a riveting jockeys’ title race.

Townend initially cut the deficit to three when he landed the Mulvaney Bookmakers Maiden Hurdle over an extended two-miles aboard Icare Desbois for Willie Mullins. The long run-in aided Icare Desbois’ cause as Townend kept him wide to deliver his challenge.

He forged home best to get up in the closing stages from Union Station, with the two main protagonists track-width apart. The 6/4 favourite prevailed by a length and a quarter for owner Niall Kennelly.

The reigning champion jockey said: “He’s been disappointing, to be honest, up to now and even his jumping over the last couple still let me down a little bit. I think as the ground dries out, he’ll improve away.

“His best run was Leopardstown [when third], which was the driest ground, and we got the best of it around here today.”

Outside winner

Jack Kennedy made the most of an outside ride on Eamonn O’Connell’s The Niffler in The Sean Graham Bookmakers Handicap Hurdle.

The grey made headway in the straight and was produced to lead in the final 100 yards. The Niffler withstood a late thrust from King Kali by half a length at 6/1 for owner Kenneth James Mullen.

Kennedy said: “I was probably just getting to know him the last few times, and I was keen to ride him a bit more forward today as he’d just stay galloping on his last couple of runs. Eamonn said to me to try and not be there too soon on him as he’d wait in front. They went a good gallop and I’d plenty to aim at.”

Tegetmeier savours first official winner

IT was a red-letter day for 18-year-old Finn Tegetmeier from Kells who rode his first winner on Blue Mosque in The McManus Bookmakers Fillies INH Flat Race.

Tegetmeier had a winner chalked off at Punchestown in February when he weighed in light after an easy victory on Noel Meade’s Colcannon in a bumper.

Meade also supplied him with Blue Mosque (9/2), who ran down the front-running-favourite Crescent Moon close home to win by a length and a half.

Meade said: “I’m delighted for Finn as he was unfortunate to lose the race at Punchestown. He’s a tall lad and rides out for me six mornings a week.

“She’s a nice filly and is leased by the High Spirits Racing Club, who have had some good horses with me over the years.”

Moore on the mark

Three In A Row justified 11/5 favouritism in the Franco Hughes Bookmakers Novice Handicap Hurdle for J.P. McManus, Arthur Moore and Donagh Meyler.

Meyler delivered him in second at the last in their pursuit of Downtherefordancin, and the front two soon separated themselves from the field on the run-in. There was precious little between them entering the final furlong with Downtherefordancin clinging on to a narrow advantage.

However, Three In A Row got his measure in the closing stages and kept on best for a hard-fought, half-length success.

Frank Berry, racing manager for McManus, said: “It was workmanlike, but he got the job done. He jumped well and got a good ride from Donagh. He’ll jump a fence in time.”

J.P. double

McManus also saw his colours carried to victory by Crecora Hills in the Pat O’Hare Bookmakers Mares Handicap Hurdle.

She travelled nicely for Mark Walsh to pick up a slight advantage two out, but was strongly pressed by Shana Cloon at the final obstacle. It looked like it was going to be a battle for the line, but Crecora Hills was having none of it and began to open up inside the furlong pole. She drew clear of a tiring Shana Cloon to win decisively in the end by six lengths at 11/1, on this step up in trip to an extended two miles and three furlongs.

Trainer Robert Tyner said: “She’s after getting the hang of things now jumping and the trip was a help as well. She probably won’t run again this season. She’s a shell of a filly and it’s great to get that win.”

O’Sullivan rides out claim aboard Rothwell’s Chap

CHEERFUL Chap (4/1 favourite) fought off his rivals in the Daragh Fitzpatrick Bookmakers Handicap Hurdle to enhance Philip Rothwell’s best-ever season.

He held a narrow lead from a packed field with three furlongs and two flights to negotiate, and found for James O’Sullivan, who drove him out on the run-in to score by three quarters of a length from a staying-on Verbal Sparring. It represented a 60th winner for the rider, meaning he lost his claim on the Geesala Racing Group Syndicate-owned seven-year-old.

Rothwell said: “Cork the last day was his first run for me and I thought he was just doing a bit too much too early. James let him on and he ended up finishing second. It was his first run in a long time and we were pleased with it but I probably got tactics wrong in Mallow.

“Today I said to James, back in trip and the ground is probably only just soft enough for him, let him bowl away.”

Brave winner

Gavin Cromwell’s Born Braver showed his mettle to grind down Big Stage at the business end of the Colm White Bookmakers Maiden Hurdle.

He was two lengths in arrears of Big Stage over the final flight but the stiff, long finish suited him best as he really warmed to his task. Big Stage needed the line in the closing stages and was collared by the pursuer close home. Born Braver went on by a length and a quarter at 9/2 for John and Judi Duffy.

Winning rider Keith Donoghue said: “He’s a very laid-back horse and I knew the finish here would suit him. I thought when I got over the last that he was always going to get there.”