Poker Party gave Rachael Blackmore another notable triumph when winning a thrilling race for the Guinness Kerry National Handicap Chase at Listowel on Wednesday.
Runner-up in the Irish jockeys' championship last season and successful at Grade 1 level at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals, Blackmore was again seen to good effect on Henry de Bromhead’s seven-year-old.
The combination had only got as far as the second fence in the Galway Plate, but made amends in tremendous style.
Blackmore was content to sit out the back as Valseur Lido and Yorkhill set a strong pace for the three miles.
They were cooked fully seven fences from the finish, leaving Internal Transfer and Icantsay at the head of affairs.
Internal Transfer was still battling two out, but the pack closed in – with Poker Party (14/1) produced to perfection.
Neil Mulholland’s British challenger Shantou Village made a dramatic exit at the final fence, unshipping Robbie Power. That left Ravenhill as the only serious threat to Poker Party, who stuck to the task determinedly to get the verdict by a head.
Na Trachtalai Abu – in the same ownership as the winner – was third, with Internal Transfer fourth.
De Bromhead said: “After the Plate we said we’d aim towards today, but it was more get him round and try to get him a bit of confidence in these big handicaps.
“I felt we threw him into the Plate a bit and he got the fright of his life. In fairness to Brian (Acheson, owner), he said to Rachael if you can finish fourth or fifth I’ll be absolutely delighted.
“She got him jumping and he started to enjoy himself. He really stuck his head down at the finish and ground it out. It’s fantastic to win the race, and to emulate my dad who won it with Bishops Hall.
“The Achesons are great supporters of the yard and it’s great to do it for them as well.”
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