AURORA Vega landed odds of 1/5 when impressing in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares’ Bumper at a showery Sligo for owner/breeders the Hammer & Trowel Syndicate.

Aurora Vega’s dam Quevega has a Cheltenham racecourse bar named in her honour and she followed year-older sibling Facile Vega in winning impressively on debut, beating Littlebiggie by 12 lengths.

Jockey Patrick Mullins commented: “She’s like her mother, quite small and short but she’s a strong barrel of a mare.

“Both times down the bottom of the track she fell asleep with me. But when she got upsides horses she locked on and my only worry in the last furlong was that she was looking at everything and might jam on.

More in the tank

“She’s not the flashiest at home but I think she’s probably better than her work and I think there’s more there in the tank, she’s one that will keep giving. I don’t know what the plan will be now, but it’s fantastic to wear these colours.

“It’s nice, after winning on one of Annie Power’s (Mystical Power), to get one of Quevega’s and we have one of Augusta Kate’s coming along as well.”

“I’m starting to feel like Ted Walsh but I’m not at the stage where I’ve ridden the grandams just yet!”

Winning trainer Willie Mullins, operating at a strike-rate in excess of 50% in the early weeks of the new season, was completing a double after Stilyker’s victory in the Michael Reynolds Handicap Hurdle.

Sent off co-favourite at 11/4, the Dylan Thomas gelding made all to beat Staging Post by a length and three quarters in the colours of Graiglore Limited.

Winning rider Kieran Callaghan said: “He was very keen the last day, trying to settle him in behind horses. Today we knew he was fit coming here and, on that good ground, there was no point fighting him.

“I just let him roll away and jump away and he enjoyed himself.”

Beauty helps Cusack celebrate double

DOUBLES are commonplace for Mullins but not so for Mountrath handler Liam Cusack who registered the first of his training career when the Bennetts Bar Syndicate’s Ballyglass Beauty landed the RSS Record Storage Service (QR) Handicap Hurdle at odds of 10/1.

Ross Berry held the son of Westerner in mid-field before progressing in the final half-mile of the three mile and a furlong contest to lead on the run-in and beat Champagne Auction by two lengths

Irish Champion Hurdle-winning former jockey Cusack commented: “It’s my first double, it’s hard enough to get one winner, so I’m delighted. It’s great to see the horses running consistently and to have three winners in a few days is brilliant.”

He added: “Ballyglass Beauty won over two miles and seven in Kilbeggan last year and had some good placed runs as well. He ran well here last year and when I saw this race, I said we’d give it a go.

“Ross rang me for the ride and I know his father John well, he was one of the best amateurs of his time. I told Ross to take his time, that he can be a bit keen, and it’s great to give him a winner.”

Altruistic success

Pearlofflorida (4/1), which was preceded by three loose horses and provided Rosshill Farm, Co Galway stallion Altruistic with a first stud success, had been Cusack’s first winner of the evening in a dramatic mares’ maiden hurdle.

The loose horses had exited at the first and galloped ahead of the field but winning jockey Charlie O’Dwyer avoided interference.

He improved Pearlofflorida to lead at the second last and, while passing the line behind the loose ones, finished three lengths ahead of runner-up Another Bonnie.

Regarding John T Murray’s winner, purchased through Done Deal for just €800, O’Dwyer said: “She won her point-to-point on nice ground and she’d gallop all day.

“Those loose horses can go anywhere and our lead horse was having a bit of a look at hurdles too which wasn’t a help. She was game and honest for me and hopefully can go on from here.”

Lisnamult leaves it late to nail Annonciade

POINT-to-point winner Lisnamult Lad (10/1) finished fast to secure the Isle Of Innisfree Opportunity Maiden Hurdle for John McConnell and Ben Harvey.

Park Annonciade was well clear jumping the final flight and matched at 1.07 in-running but the Matthew Rogers-owned gelding finished well to edge a three-quarters of a length success.

Harvey reported: “Lisnamult Lad relaxes well at home and is a very good ride, but when he gets to the races he seems to get really lit up. He might appreciate going further but we’re going to have to teach him to settle first, and maybe a bigger track might help him.

Trained by James Lambe for Mrs Carr, True Destiny (10/1) notched an eighth career success and a second course-and-distance win in the two and a half-mile handicap hurdle, coming from off the pace to beat Florey Spud by a length and a quarter.

Winning jockey Liam McKenna commented: “James gave him a real good hard piece of work last week and was expecting a big run. He seems to click around here. We were lucky the rain came as he appreciated it.”

James Smith registered his first winner in the paid ranks when making all on his father Matt’s 14/1 chance Bigz Belief in the claiming hurdle, scoring by three and three-quarter lengths from Britzka in the colours of Debbie Kelly

Trainer Smith said: “James has had two bumper winners but I wouldn’t have enough opportunities for him as an amateur so he decided to get his conditional licence a few months ago. He’s a good young lad who’s with me the whole time and works hard.”