ONE mistake aside, the high-class Cilaos Emery enjoyed a smooth and uneventful comeback in the Listed BetVictor Chase as the former Champion Hurdle fourth headed a treble for Willie Mullins.
The nine-year-old was running for the first time since being touched off by Samcro at Killarney in May, and he was trying a new trip as he tackled two and three-quarter miles for the first time.
In a race where the 30/100 favourite held an overwhelming edge with a rating of 160, there was one moment of concern when he got the second fence wrong.
Otherwise though, the Brian Hayes-ridden gelding produced a smooth round of jumping from the front. The Luke McMahon-owned winner had still to come off the bridle nearing the last fence and only needed to be shaken up for a few strides on the run in for an easy three-length triumph over the former Champion Hurdle third Darver Star.
“He jumped well apart from that one mistake and enjoyed the trip so maybe he might stay at these trips for the season,” stated Hayes.
Mullins then produced one of those training masterclasses for which he has become renowned as Braganza returned from a layoff of 1,439 days to win the BetVictor Irish EBF Mares Maiden Hurdle.
All the way back at the 2018 Goffs November Breeding Stock Sale owner Sharon Noonan parted with €6,000 to secure Braganza who had run just once on the flat for Ed Dunlop the previous year.
There then followed a wait of some three years to get this Nathaniel filly to the track and the 10/1 chance duly rewarded the patience of her connections.
Sean O’Keeffe’s mount turned in a novicey round of jumping but this didn’t stop her handing out a six-length beating to the 91-rated flat performer Monas Melody and one suspects there could be a good deal more to come from her.
“It’s been a long story. We wanted to get into racing in a small way and a friend of ours, Eamonn Phelan, recommended her when she was at the sales in Goffs,” reflected the owner.
“At the time she was in foal and she has since produced a filly by Champs Elysees who we have at home, and then we put her back into training as Eamonn definitely saw potential in her. It’s been a long journey but this is amazing.”
The champion trainer’s day kicked off with Ciel De Neige making a bright start over fences in the BetVictor Beginners Chase over two and a quarter miles.
The former Betfair Hurdle runner-up and 140-rated hurdle took well to this new discipline to look like one that should prove at least as effective in this sphere.
The 6/5 favourite was always close the pace for Mark Walsh and moved on before the straight, while a good jump at the final fence put the seal on a four-and-a-half-length triumph over Crosshill. There is a good prize to be won with this J.P. McManus-owned gelding over fences.
GORDON Elliott maintained his steady flow of winners with Vina Ardanza in the four-year-old maiden hurdle although the 5/4 favourite had to work harder than looked likely for much of the race.
A winner of an Ayr bumper on his debut for Stuart Crawford last April, the Califet gelding was travelling smoothly for Davy Russell as he loomed upsides Walnut Hill off the final bend. The latter gave the market leader a fair test and lost out by just a short head in a bobbing finish.
“I think he will improve plenty from here. He is possibly more a horse for the spring and summer and is still learning so we might leave him off for the winter,” said the trainer, whose charge is owned by Alymer Stud.
Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore enjoyed the perfect send-off ahead of their assault on Newbury this afternoon as Clifton Warrior made a winning debut in the BetVictor-sponsored maiden hurdle for horses who had never previously won.
A twice-raced point-to-point graduate, this five-year-old was sent off the evens favourite and he asserted in good style in the straight.
He stretched away from the field after two out and reached the line eight and a half lengths ahead of Tudor Manor. The winner is owned by the Warriors Syndicate.
“He seems a nice horse at home and he’d been working nicely. Hugh Bleahen recommended him to us and he’s the syndicate’s first horse with us,” commented the trainer.
IT was a day to remember for jockey Eoin Walsh as he notched up a double which he achieved in somewhat dramatic circumstances.
The double looked to be in safe keeping as Peace Party (11/2) approached the final flight of the Boomerang Shavings & Horse & Country Store Handicap Hurdle with a good lead.
However, the Des McDonogh inmate got that flight all wrong and for a perilous few strides Walsh was clinging on over the horse’s neck.
After doing well to stay on, the rider then was able to right himself and his willing partner helped matters by staying galloping all the time. Indeed Peace Party had eight lengths to spare over the field by the time he reached the line as he and Walsh combined for their second success of the season.
The winner caries the colours of his breeder, Peter Newell.
Over six years after recording his first success the Peter Cluskey stalwart Ciankyle (18/1) is still going strong and he notched up the seventh victory of his career in the 0-116 rated Racing TV-sponsored handicap chase over two and a quarter miles.
In the straight, the Hugh Calvey-owned and -bred 10-year-old arrived with a strong effort under the stand’s side rail for Eoin Walsh and got on top after the final fence to account for Dontdooddson by two and a quarter lengths.