HISPANIC Moon put herself in line for a tilt at the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham next month with an impressive victory in the Grade 3 BetVictor Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown on Wednesday.

Gala Marceau went to post a 2/7 shot in the Grade 3 contest but proved a disappointment back in third as the Henry de Bromhead-trained mare powered clear late on for an eight-length victory.

Darragh O’Keeffe let his mount jump up to challenge front-runner Saylavee two from home in the two-and-a-half mile contest and sent her on running down to the last. The 11/2 shot opened up on the run-in to settle matters in fine style in the colours of Kieran Mariga.

Hispanic Moon had won on her first outing for the yard here in November before finishing a well-beaten sixth at Leopardstown on her next outing.

Stable representative Robbie Power said afterwards: “That was great. She was impressive here back in November and I don’t know what went wrong at Christmas, there was no real excuse for her, she just didn’t run her race for some reason.

“That was much more like it today. She was a different mare, she travelled and jumped really well. She winged the last and went from there to the winning post with her two ears pricked.

“Hopefully there is a bit more in the locker. She’s in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and we’ll see how she comes out of this, we might take a punt. You’d have to be tempted after that.”


De Bromhead was completing a quick double on the card having also landed the previous INH Stallion Owners EBF Mares Maiden Hurdle with new recruit Majestic Force.

The Workforce mare had joined the yard after winning a point-to-point at Lingstown in December and went to post a 7/2 shot on her ‘track’ debut.

Rachael Blackmore produced her mount to lead going to the last and she proved four and a half lengths too strong for 2/5 favourite Dr Eggman.

Power said: “That was nice, it was a very good performance. We’re delighted to get a good winner for (owner) Duncan (Angove).

“Rachael thought she’d be better in a better race, going a stride quicker. We might have a look at some of the spring targets but chasing is going to be her game next winter.”

Mullins bags a brace

WILLIE Mullins was out of luck in the feature event on the card but still saddled two winners courtesy of Milo Lises and Cuta Des As.

Brian Hayes took the mount on 9/1 shot Milo Lises in the opening Bet Victor Maiden Hurdle and the Storm The Stars gelding stepped up on previous outings over timber.

The 9/1 shot came with a strong run in the closing stages to collar Faulty and record a neck victory for owner Niall Kennelly.

“We decided to change tactics today and dropped him in a bit further back. I think it probably helped a lot in the very testing ground,” said Mullins. “That’s pleasing as his pedigree suggests he should be better on better ground. He’s probably just learning his trade and coming right at the right time of the year.

“We could look at Fairyhouse over Easter or back here at Punchestown with him. He’s probably one we’ll keep going for the summer as well.”

Paul Townend was on board Cuta Des As as she made a winning return to action in the mares’ maiden hurdle on the card.

The race developed into a match between the 7/4 shot and 8/15 favourite Tareze with Townend leading over the last on his mount to record a four-length win.

“She obviously likes that ground and she jumped well when Paul wanted her over the last,” said Mullins. “She’s a nice big type of mare that will jump fences. Hopefully we might win another novice hurdle between now and the summer but I think her job might be over fences next season.”

Sutton scores first win on Balum

JACK Sutton partnered his first winner under rules when Balum ran out an impressive winner in the Sherry Fitzgerald Brady Handicap Hurdle.

The Dermot McLoughlin-trained mare went to the front before the third flight and the 7/1 shot proved much too strong for her rivals in the closing stages, scooting clear from the last for a nine-length win.

McLoughlin said: “She had a good run the last day and it brought her on. Jack’s Mam (Eileen) and Dad (Raymond) own her so it’s great for him. He comes into us and rides out and is a good young lad.

“We’ll see what happens with the handicapper now. It was grand for the young lad to get started and we’ll go from there.”

In the three-mile handicap hurdle on the card Aodhan May bagged back-to-back wins, following up on her Navan success 10 days previously.

Philip Byrnes partnered the Vinnie Roe mare for his father, Charles, and was always prominent on the 11/4 favourite. She led at the last and kept on well to score by a length and a half.

“She handles the ground and she had a lovely light weight. He kept it simple,” said Byrnes senior.

“She’s brilliant to jump which is a blessing as well. We’ll keep her going as long as this ground lasts, she broke down a couple of times before so we wouldn’t be running her on good ground.”

Finn Tegetmeier seemed to have partnered his first winner in the concluding two-mile bumper on the card only to lose the race after weighing in light.

The Noel Meade-trained Colcannon was an impressive victor, leading over a furlong from home and sprinting away to score by nine lengths over 8/15 favourite Sermandzarak.

Unfortunately for connections it transpired that the rider was 1.3lb light coming back in, just 0.3lb over the allowance.

Meade said after the stewards’ inquiry: “It would appear what happened was he walked the track after he weighed out. It is unbelievable but there is nothing I can do about it and that’s it. There is no blame on anybody.”

He had earlier said about the horse: “He’s out of a good mare, She’s A Star. He came to us as a two-year-old and we sent him back, he grew about six inches and he’s still growing.

“I think he will be a nice horse in time, he’s still a baby.”

The Gordon Elliott-trained Sermandzarak, owned by Robcour, was promoted to first after the inquiry.