Pravalaguna gave a bold, front-running display to take listed honours in the BBA Ireland Limited Opera Hat Mares Chase at Naas on Saturday.
Pravalaguna doesn't see another rival and impresses again over fences in the big race at @NaasRacecourse, the Listed @BBAIreland Opera Hat Mares Chase for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend pic.twitter.com/DoyERCvvZu— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 9, 2019
The 8/13 favourite overcame a scare at the fifth fence from home in the two-mile feature, as she followed up her first victory over fences at Limerick in December.
Jockey Paul Townend appeared to lose an iron briefly, but was back on an even keel before the next obstacle which his partner jumped fluently.
Success never seemed to be in doubt after that and the seven-year-old, trained by Willie Mullins, went on to score by 14 lengths. Baie Des Iles was second, a short head in front of Teacher’s Pet.
Next month’s Cheltenham Festival could now be on the agenda.
“It was a nice performance. The mistake seemed to wake her up and she galloped on away at the end, so she can go two or two-and-a-half (miles). I’d have no trouble going an extra half mile with her again,” said Mullins.
“The Arkle is a possibility. I know the connections would like to have a runner at Cheltenham, no more than myself. She’s also in the JLT, so both are a possibility.
“We didn’t think she would survive her fall in Auteuil (in June 2017). She’s made a great recovery and has won her last couple of races now.”
City Island justified his prohibitive odds with a convincing performance in the Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Novice Hurdle.
Martin Brassil’s six-year-old looked good when lifting a maiden at Leopardstown at Christmas after being disqualified when first past the post at Galway, and further boosted his prospects for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in fine style.
Always having pace-setting The Echo Boy in his sights, the 1/5 shot took the lead between the final two flights and skipped clear under Mark Walsh to score by seven lengths.
“It was an ideal race for him to have a run before he goes over (to Cheltenham). They (owners Sean and Bernadine Mulryan) are mad keen to have a horse to run in their own race (Ballymore) at Cheltenham and thankfully we might have fallen on one,” said Brassil.
“It’s been the plan since Galway and we just picked out a couple of races to fit in. Hopefully it will be onwards and upwards from here, as long as there is racing. He jumps very well. We might as well be running around for a few quid as running around for nothing.
“He’s a nice horse to have. Mark said he’ll probably get three miles in time so the trip of the Cheltenham race won’t be an inconvenience anyway, I wouldn’t think.”
Joseph O'Brien trained the winner of the four-year-old novice hurdle but not with the favourite Konitho, was was possibly unsuited by the slow pace. Instead victory went to stable companion Band Of Outlaws, who was able to use his superior flat speed to quicken away in the closing stages under J.J. Slevin to win by almost five lengths.
O'Brien has an embarrassment of riches in the juvenile hurdling department this season and mentioned the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle as a possible target for the Justin Carthy-owned winner.
The young trainer was fancied to win the bumper with Front View but the 6/4 favourite was brought down in a three-horse pile-up on the final bend. The race was won in good style by Liz Doyle's newcomer Barnes Des Mottes, ridden by Finny Maguire.
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