TRAINER Gordon Elliott warmed up for Down Royal’s big weekend by completing a double at Thurles on Thursday, scoring with a pair of chasing-type winners Favori De Champdou and Demandrivingdouvan.
Gigginstown House Stud’s Favori De Champdou (11/10f) made most of the running under jockey Jack Kennedy to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden Hurdle, with Elliott later reporting: “He did everything right and Jack gave him a good ride. He is one of Gigginstown’s and they like them ridden up there, but we thought he’d need the run and he looked big in the ring. He jumped great and he’ll probably go chasing now.”
The Gold Cup-winning trainer completed his double in the concluding Irish Stallion Farms EBF Auction Bumper with well-touted winning point-to-pointer Demandrivingdouvan (1/4f, under jockey Jamie Codd). The Buttonwood Farms owned five-year-old led travelling well entering the home straight and was eventually ridden out for a two-and-a-half-length win over Spitalfield.
Elliott said: “Jamie said he wasn’t doing a stroke once he got to the front and when Declan’s (Lavery) horse March To Victory ran off the track, he had to roll on. I wasn’t even thinking of running him in a bumper until I found a race, but he is a grand horse. He’ll go straight over hurdles now.”
Global win for Joseph O’Brien
RICHIE Deegan registered a first winner for trainer Joseph O’Brien when steering the Annus Mirabilis Syndicate-owned Global Equity (4/1) to an easy win, under top weight, in the Ballagh Mares Handicap Hurdle. Winner of the Student Derby nine days ago, the daughter of Shirocco made virtually all to beat Rebel Early by eight lengths.
Deegan reported: “She did it very easily and I didn’t realise how far clear I was. She travelled well and was in her comfort zone everywhere and I’d say her run at the Curragh sharpened her up.
“I started going to Joseph’s during the summer when things were quiet for me and ride out a couple of days a week. He is a great trainer, that’s my second ride for him and I was second on the first one. It is nice to get a few chances and I’m also riding out for Paul Nolan, Eoin McCarthy and Liam Cusack.”
Rebel Early’s trainer Liam Burke had earlier won the Two-Mile Borris Handicap Hurdle with Light Parade (5/1), which completed a double for jockey Philip Enright. Runner-up previously at Cork, the mare scored readily from Ucandoit, for the winning Light Parade Syndicate. Burke later said: “She won well in the end. She didn’t travel early on but they went a fair gallop and she warmed up into it.
“She got knocked down at Downpatrick and then ran disappointingly in Clonmel (in September). I ended up doing nothing with her in between her next runs and did the same today and it worked. She might pick up another one.”
There was a notable market mover in the opening Thurles Beginners Chase as Paladian Jewel’s supporters hid from view until minutes before the off, backing the Tom Cooper owned and trained from 40/1 on the show price, before returning 5/2. In the race Paladian Jewel travelled well for much of the way but ultimately faded to finish fourth, behind 25/1 winner Scalor, under jockey Sean O’Keeffe.
Afterwards winning trainer Liz Doyle said: “He is only 15.3hh but I’m kicking myself for not going over fences sooner. I had nowhere to go with him as he was frustrating on the flat, when he wouldn’t settle, and I said we’d put a fence in front of him and teach him to settle.
“He has really taken to it, he is very accurate and scopey for a small horse. The fences get him to drop the bit, which he has never done on the flat and he doesn’t do much over hurdles. He finishes out better. He is a summer horse and I’ll see if there’s anything at Thurles. If the calendar isn’t great, it might be holidays but it would be a great note to finish on.”
Narrow margins clinch the win
A NOSE separated the first two finishers in both the Littleton Handicap Hurdle and Templemore Mares Maiden Hurdle with Difficult Decision winning the former race and Navy Waves the latter. Ridden by Philip Enright, riding the first leg of a double, Difficult Decision (10/1, for Keep The Faith Bloodstock) was another horse to make much of the running and win, as he got the better of Filon D’ourairies by the narrowest of margins.
Winning trainer Oliver McKiernan later said: “I thought in Punchestown the last day he was lucky not to be brought down when I thought he was going well and it affected his momentum. I thought today’s trip might be short for him as he stays three miles so we made plenty use of him. He doesn’t want deep winter ground as he has small feet and is a handy horse but he is game. We’ll look for much the same next, maybe back over 2m4f.”
Half an hour later the Julie Cashin-trained, Evan Dwan-partnered Navy Waves gained a 33/1 maiden hurdle win when defeating Mollys Glory (10/11f) by the same margin. The trainer’s husband Johnny Cashin later reported: “She was working well at home, everything was going well and we were happy with her work.
“Evan comes in to me, he is a grand rider and they all deserve their chance. We’re based in Killenaule, only have about two or three in training so don’t have many runners and we mainly breed horses.”