THE Banger Doyle survived a mistake at the last to run out a narrow winner of the featured Ladbrokes “5-A-Side” Handicap Chase at Punchestown on Saturday.

Carl Millar performed heroics to get the John Queally trained 3/1 joint-favourite home a short-head in front of fellow market leader Great Bear. Queally later said of the John Nicholson-owned winner: “He got his head in front at last. He’s a horse that never runs a bad race but for some reason he gets beaten.

“He gave an exhibition (of jumping) apart from the last. He’s still a maiden over hurdles and is rated about 20lb better off before today over hurdles so you’d imagine he should be able to win a handicap hurdle. He has lots of options and can go back on the flat as well.”

Father-son duo

James Smith made all the running on Napper Tandy to upset odds-on favourite Icare Desbois in the opening Ladbrokes “We Play Together” Novice Hurdle. Trained by the jockey’s father Matthew(Smith), the 4/1 chance stayed on strongly to win by two lengths.

Matt Smith said: “It suited him going on in front and he toughed it out well. His jumping was better as well. He won from the front on the flat in England. He’s a big horse and it probably just took a couple of runs as he takes plenty of work. The galloping track also suited him.

“He’ll keep going for the summer and we’ll probably look at a flat race as well for him. It was a good ride by James and I’m delighted for Ray (Stokes, owner).”  

Clear victory for Callaghan

THE Willie Mullins trained Gaucher made most under Kieran Callaghan to win the Ladbrokes “2Up&Win” Maiden Hurdle. Carrying the colours of Mrs Rose Boyd and Mrs Marie Armstrong, the 13/8 favourite went clear in the straight to win by 15 lengths.

Kieran Callaghan stated: “He missed the start and he was very keen. He pulled himself to the front and once I got there he settled and jumped okay on the whole.

“He was out to his left at one or two but after that he was very straightforward and quickened away nicely from the back of the last. He was bought to be a nice horse and hopefully he can work out that way.”

Galway bound

Mullins and Callaghan were out of luck in the Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boost Maiden Hurdle when 8/11 favourite My Great Mate was overtaken after the last by the Ross O’Sullivan-trained Donnie Devito. Jockey and assistant trainer Tom Harney had to be at his strongest to get the 11/1 chance up close home to win by half-a-length.

Ross O’Sullivan said: “He’s a horse that had winter bumper form. Willie’s was all the rage and I thought turning in it would be a good run to be second. The tongue tie definitely helped with him, and he worked very well during the week. Tom rode him good and positive, and he wore down the horse in front.

“He’s probably a staying type of horse, and three winners have come out of the Kilbeggan race he ran in the last day. He’ll keep going now for the summer and Tommy (Ward, owner) will want a runner in Galway so he might go there. The ground was lovely and safe today.”

Penny dropped

Marronstown stayed on best under Alex Harvey to win the Ladbrokes Handicap Chase for trainer David Christie. Owned by the Castlehume Syndicate, the 9/1 winner had eight lengths in hand of runner-up Land Jet.

Christie said: “The penny is just dropping with him. He stays very well and he always hits a flat spot but I wanted to run him on good ground once. He handles the soft ground so well but it’s nice to see him on good ground today. He’s jumped from fence to fence. He’s a strange horse in his head and it’s taken him a long time to mature.

“We’ve had to be very patient. He’s put together three good runs and that’s the first time he’s done that since we’ve had him. I thought he was in front too soon as he can look about him, but the big track helps him as he’s coming home a long way. Maybe he could be competitive later in the year in one of those Nationals. He stays so well. Menindee fell when in front at the last in this race last year so that makes up for it.”

Narrow margin

Gaelic Des Chastys made a winning stable debut for Eric McNamara when taking division l of the Ladbrokes Play “1-2-Free” Handicap Hurdle under son Conor (McNamara). Owned by Bill Hawkins, the 10/1 chance led close home to beat Del Girl a short- head.

Eric McNamara said: “He’s a new horse to the yard and has been doing everything really nicely since we got him. I think the secret to him is a bit of nice ground. He’s a real good actioned horse and I’d like to think there is a bit of improvement in him.

“He can be very keen amongst horses and we decided to go wide with him. That was the plan and it worked. Conor gave him a good ride.”

Flashy winner for Kelly and Brouder

GAVIN Brouder rode Flashthelights to win the second division of the Ladbrokes Play “1-2-Free” Handicap Hurdle for trainer Noel Kelly. Sent off 7/1, the Red Ned’s Racing Club- owned gelding went clear on the run-in for a four-and-a-half length success.

Kelly reported: “He’s run well a few days since I got him. They went quick enough today and the plan was to drop him out and come with a late run. We were hoping they would go too quick and stop and that’s what happened. There are plenty of days in him.

He’s no superstar but he’s not a bad wee horse. They are new owners to the yard and it’s great to have them. I’d say we’ll stick to hurdles for a while and he could go back over fences down the line.”

O’Connor special

Fatal Flaw made all under Derek O’Connor to win the concluding Northway Personnel (Pro/Am) Flat Race for Jonathan Sweeney. Carrying the colours of Michael McKeown, the 5/1 chance kept on strongly to hold Base Of Fire by two lengths.

Winning trainer Sweeney said: “He’s a nice horse and did that well. It looked to be a nice enough race on paper – a 20-runner bumper around Punchestown. Derek was good on him. We discussed it before he went out and I left it up to himself whether he was going to sit in behind the leaders or go on. That’s the beauty of a good man. We’ll get over today and see where we go. He’s one to look forward to.”