POLITESSE bounced back to winning ways with an impressive front-running performance in the Tote Connacht National at Roscommon on Tuesday.
The Lorna Fowler-trained mare stepped up to three miles for the first time in the €24,000 feature contest and proved too strong for her eight rivals.
Conor Orr’s mount travelled sweetly in the lead turning for home and the 11/2 shot kept on stoutly in the closing stages to record a one-and-three-quarter-length victory over Popong.
“I never had so much pleasure in seeing a horse back to winning ways,” said Fowler afterwards. “She has her problems and took a while to come back after unseating at Cork.
“Everything was perfect today, she loves that good ground and loves to have them chasing her.
“That was her back at her best and I’m very proud of her today.
“I’ll talk to the owners and see what the appetite is for. I think you’d have to look at Galway.”
Sole Pretender went to post a short price in the opening Castlerea Novice Chase but had to work hard to land odds of 2/9.
Norman Lee’s charge was to the fore throughout in the two-miler but was joined turning for home by Ferdia. There was nothing between the pair jumping the third last but Sole Pretender edged ahead on the run to the last to record a three-length win under Simon Torrens.
“I’m delighted with him. We got a bit of a shock at the bottom of the straight but he still went and did his job,” said Lee, who trains the eight-year-old for Michael Hogan.
“John Ryan’s horse isn’t a bad horse. Our lad will come on from that again. He might go for the Grimes Hurdle or maybe to Galway for the novice chase on the Thursday.”
Torrens went on to complete his brace on Ambitious Fellow in the Kepak Rated Novice Hurdle for Peter Fahey.
The Fame And Glory gelding went to post 11/10 favourite in the two-and-a-half-mile contest and was held up before being pushed along after the fourth last flight. He got to the front two from home and asserted in the closing stages for a three-and-a-half-length win over Plains Indian.
“We’ll keep him ticking over for Galway now and go for a nice handicap there, he has plenty of experience now,” said Fahey. “We can step him up in trip even more, when they got racing there after the fourth last we were caught for toe but he did it well at the death. The ground was probably as quick as he’d want it.”
In-form O’Hanlon doubles up
PADDY O’Hanlon has been riding on the crest of a wave since his Irish Grand National success on Lord Lariat and he doubled-up on this card.
Weddell Sea went to post a 4/6 shot in the two-mile opportunity maiden hurdle and it proved plain sailing for the Andy McNamara-trained gelding. He made virtually all the running and kicked clear two from home for a cosy eight-length win over Edge Of My Seat.
“He jumped nicely and put in a nice enough show, so we’ll head on to Galway, probably for the winners’ four-year-old race,” said McNamara, who trains the gelding for Andrew Heffernan.
O’Hanlon teamed up with Irish Grand National ally Dermot McLoughlin when Lady Iseult ran out a gutsy winner of the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle. The 14/1 shot (40/1 in the morning) was always handy and disputed with Eaton Lady from the second last. She got the better of that rival close home for a half-length win.
O’Hanlon said: “I was a bit tight into the last and in fairness to her she’s galloped well to the line, even a step-up in trip would be no bother. It was my fault the last day, I fell off her. Thankfully she’s got the job done there and Brian (Beggan) is a nice owner so I’m delighted for him.”
Cullen records first hurdle success
ANNALISE Cullen had to survive a stewards’ enquiry before her first success over jumps, on Dylan Oak, was confirmed after the first division of the two-mile handicap hurdle.
The Dylan Thomas gelding, trained by the rider’s father Denis, came with a strong surge on the run-in to claim Vale Of Glory.
The stewards had a look after the 9/2 winner leaned in on his rival late on but the result stood.
“I’m delighted. He’s not winning out of turn as he was running good races in defeat last year and he ran a lovely race the last day,” said Cullen senior. “I’m delighted for Annalise to get her first winner over hurdles.”
In the second division of the contest, Presenting Lad proved a game winner in an eventful race.
Gary Noonan produced the 4/1 winner to lead three from home and he held the challenge of He’s Leading Me On by three-quarters of a length.
Winning trainer Mark McNiff said: “I thought he’d win the last day but they walked around and he got very free. He had a race won here last year and went upside down at the last. He’ll come back for that same race this year, touch wood.”
Karla Martina ran out three from home in the race when disputing the lead, while earlier Our Bobby had unseated when attempting to run out at the second flight.
Like Sole Pretender in the opener, A Dream To Share also had to work to justify his odds of 2/9 in the concluding bumper.
The John Kiely-trained gelding was held up in the two-miler and had plenty to do turning for home under John Gleeson.
He got on top inside the final furlong and was a comfortable winner at the line, recording a two-and-a-quarter-length victory over Fiveonefive.
“He won very impressively the first day in Tipperary and we thought coming today it looked like a nice opportunity to grab a second one,” said the winning rider, who carried the colours of his mother Claire. “He ran a bit green in places up the straight but once I gave him a tap he fairly straightened up and he quickened up really nicely.”