GOWRAN Park staged its annual two-day racing festival, but a change in weather made for contrasting conditions.
While Friday’s card was run off on relatively good ground, heavy overnight rain changed the going to soft for Saturday’s meeting.
Margaret Mullins has a nice prospect on her hands in the shape of Mumbo Jumbo, which ran out a comfortable enough winner in the bumper at the opening session which was confined to debutantes. The son of Vinnie Roe recouped a little of his hefty foal purchase price when coming from mid division to lead inside the two furlong marker and stayed on well to beat another son of Vinnie Roe Solidago by three and a half lengths.
Owned by Peter Magnier, the winner looked decent. While these type of races are notoriously difficult to assess his progress will be monitored with interest.
Shark Hanlon kept up his great strike rate by taking the two mile and four beginners chase with Misala. Lady luck was smiling down on him as his charge looked booked for third place until both Island Oscar and Jakros departed the scene at the third last fence, leaving Misala in front.
Now in the lead, rider Andrew McNamara had just to keep him up to his work to beat Sizing Santiago by seven lengths. After an inspection by the stewards the third last fence was omitted for the other chase on the card.
Although Jim Dreaper has won most of the big races on the jumping circuit his star has waned somewhat in recent years. He made a welcome return to the winners enclosure when Cavite Beta made most of the running to capture the two mile and four conditions hurdle in the hands of Andrew Lynch.
A dual winner when under the care of Nicky Henderson, the Old Vic gelding was making his Irish debut. His saddle slipped early on in the race and Lynch had to call on all his artistry to get him home by a neck from Slew Charm. One of the horses that Dreaper trains for Alan and Anne Potts, Cavite Beta showed fine battling qualities. On this evidence could make into a useful staying hurdler.
The winning owners had earlier been successful in the opening four-year-old maiden hurdle when Absolutlyfantastic scored narrowly from Scots Gaelic.
Again partnered by Lynch, the son of Alhaarth took a time to get his act together but once Lynch got him organised he took over and pulled out plenty to land the spoils by three-parts of a length.
Well regarded by his handler Henry de Bromhead, Absolutlyfantastic could return to the venue for a novice contest. However, connections are also viewing a similar style contest at Cheltenham in November.
Mullinahone trainer Michael Moran created a 16/1 upset when Killogan Lass ran out a game winner of the 80-94 handicap hurdle over two and a half miles. Never out of the leading trio, the eight-year-old led off the home turn and in spite of being untidy at the final flight saw out the trip well to hit the wire a length and three parts to the good from Bennys Quest.
The return to action of the Two Mile Champion chaser Sizing Europe was a big attraction in the two mile and four Grade Two Conditions Chase on Saturday. Although he landed the spoils he must be considered very fortunate to do so.
Starting favourite Sizing Europe ‘fiddled’ several fences and was being pushed along early in the straight. He didn’t seem to be making any impression on the leader Rubi Light until the latter tipped up at the last, leaving the favourite in front. From there he just about did enough to get home by a length and three-parts from the Michael Bowe runner Coolcashin.
Rubi Light was most unlucky as he had the race at his mercy at the time of his exit. Jockey Davy Russell was inconsolable post-race, reporting that he had just wanted to allow his mount to pop over the fence but got in too close. Third in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham last term, Rubi Light has the Champion Chase at Down Royal and the Lexus at Leopardstown on his agenda, so it looks as though he is in for a busy campaign.
Kieran Purcell has his team in fine fettle and was on the mark again as Burrenbridge Lodge kept his unbeaten record over hurdles intact when taking the juvenile hurdle. Under a fine ride by Inistioge-born Tom Doyle, Burrenbridge Lodge showed his versatility as he coped with the much changed conditions in fine style.
Well supported, he was never too far off the pace. He delivered his challenge after the last, where he was not exactly fluent, but rallied well to get up in the shadow of the post to touch off the long-time leader One Cool Sharba by a head.
Piltown trainer Tom Walsh scored a popular success when Springfield Way justified favouritism to take the older horses maiden hurdle over to mile and a half. A Naas bumper winner, the Safety Catch gelding took over after leaving the back straight but had to withstand a serious examination from Thewesthowaya.
He is a fine staying animal and connections are toying with the idea of going chasing at some point during the season. This was another powerpacked ride from Tom Doyle, who has shown more than once that his return to his native land from England was a great move as he is in huge demand.
Gerard Mullins completed a great weekend for local horses when he saddled Bachelor Affair for victory. The prolific scorer made most of the running to beat He’s Cool in the 91-121 handicap hurdle under Tommy Treacy.