THERE was a dramatic conclusion to the Liam Healy Memorial Lartigue Hurdle at Listowel on Tuesday with Gold Seal being awarded the race following a stewards’ inquiry.
Kuiper Belt was sent off the 5/1 favourite in the feature event for Gordon Elliott and Denis O’Regan and he crossed the line in unison with Gold Seal, with the judge eventually calling Kuiper Belt the short-head victor.
However, the two had come together at the second last and the stewards decided that without that incident, the fast-finishing Gold Seal (11/1), ridden by 7lb apprentice Evan Daly for Joseph O’Brien, would have won and reversed the placings.
Frank Berry, racing manager to JP McManus, said: “He handled the ground better than I thought he would and the young lad rode him very well and crept into it lovely.
“Today was his Derby day and it was a lovely pot to win with him. I was up in the stands and had no real opinion on it (the inquiry), but Evan thought he was unlucky as he was stopped at the wrong time.
“We’ll find another handicap along the way next and the way he handled that ground, he has more of a chance on winter ground than I previously thought he had. I was surprised how well he handled it.”
O’Brien had been on the mark earlier with Beautiful Citi (9/4) in the Jet O’Carroll Memorial Irish EBF Mares Maiden Hurdle.
She looked booked for second at best as the odds-on favourite Diamond Hill cruised to the front only to nearly come down at the second last, leaving the way clear for Davy Russell’s mount to win.
Owner/breeder Sean O’Driscoll said: “She’s a lovely, lovely mare. I bred her myself and have a three-year-old full-brother to her. He just went into training with Joseph last week. He is a fine horse as well and we are looking forward to him next year.
“Joseph O’Brien is just a genius. He has the bloodlines, he is just a fine young man and a wonderful trainer. It’s a pleasure to have horses with him.”
McManus had a second winner on the day as 3/1 favourite Bay Hill took the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle. Trained by Padraig Roche and ridden by Liam McKenna, he stayed on strongly.
“It’s great to get a winner at Listowel, that’s his seventh win for us and he’s been a great horse. He has won five on the flat and that’s his second win over hurdles,” said Roche.
O’Brien made it a treble when classy hurdler Le Richebourg (4/5 favourite) made a winning debut over fences in the John F. McGuire Beginners Chase.
Berry said: “He ran a blinder in the Galway Hurdle (finishing fifth). He jumped great today and handled the ground. You couldn’t ask for better.”
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