Fairyhouse has always been a happy hunting ground for Johnstown trainer Michelle Gannon and came up trumps again at the weekend.
Gannon’s stable star Missypet scored her second victory inside a month at the venue, taking the two mile and four 84-103 handicap hurdle.
One of only two horses in training with Michelle the Westener mare, who was bred by her owner Loughlin Harte, enjoyed plenty of support in the betting market.
She was given plenty of time to find her feet by jockey Brian O’Connell but improved to be right on the premises turning to face the judge.
At this point Definite Earl had taken a clear advantage, but he was collared after jumping the last by Missypet who then had to withstand a serious challenge from Mine Now before landing the spoils by three-parts of a length.
Out of the Supreme leader mare Erkindale Miss, who was a bumper winner over the course when partnered by Ms Gannon, the winner is not short on stamina. Missypet is now entitled to be stepped up in class.
Willie Mullins continued his red-hot streak by taking the two mile and two Grade Three Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle with Morning Run.
A race which was held to honour Michael Bowe’s great servant of a number of years back this was a competitive contest but the winner, who was unbeaten in her five previous outings, had a slice of luck when her stable companion and nearest challenger Lyrical Theatre made a mistake at the final flight.
Setting off in front, Morning Run (who, like Lyrical Theatre, is also a daughter of the late lamented King’s Theatre was not exactly foot perfect at one or two of her hurdles but looked the likely winner early in the straight.
Paul Townend had moved Lyrical Theatre into a challenging position after the second last but lost much of her momentum with a last hurdle mistake, allowing Morning Run to go on and take the money by four lengths with all of 17 lengths back to the third finisher Baie Des Iles.
The winner and runner-up look to be two high class mares that can pay to follow in the time ahead. Mullins intimated post-race that Morning Run will bypass Cheltenham and be aimed instead at a Grade One here during the Easter festival. It will be interesting to see how he places Lyrical Theatre in the weeks ahead.
Since becoming first jockey to owner Barry Connell, Cork-born Adrian Heskin is riding with plenty of confidence and no little success. The partnership visited the winners enclosure when Velvet Maker justified strong support to land the two mile and four novice handicap hurdle in a common canter.
Heskin had his hands full to settle the six-year-old early on, but tucked him nicely behind the leaders. Sizing Titanium from the Jim Dreaper yard led into the straight but it was abundantly clear that Velvet Maker was travelling with the proverbial ton in hand. Once Heskin popped the question the combination went on to win by ten lengths.
Well fancied when second to Rock On The Moor at Leopardstown over Christmas, Velvet Maker was a different proposition here. Handler Tony Martin said that his charge is still learning the game and will make nice chasing prospect come the Autumn.
Jim Dreaper had better luck in the opening conditions chase when Los Amigos showed battling qualities to beat the great old warrior Lion Na Bearnai by half a length.
Having finished second to On His Own in last years’ Thyestes Chase Los Amigos subsequently finished third in the Leinster National at Naas back in March and had not appeared in the meantime.
Always lying handy under Andrew Lynch, he just got the better of a scrap with longtime leader Lion Na Bearnai.
Since turning professional David Mullins has created a favourable impression. His 7lb claim is widely used by trainers and he was seen to further advantage when taking the bumper aboard Whistle Dixie.
Settled off the pace, Whistle Dixie came with a wet sail in the straight to lead a furlong or so out and stay on well to hit the wire five and a half lengths to the good from cousin Patrick’s mount Honeys Joy.
Well regarded by trainer Gordon Elliott, the daughter of Kayf Tara will now be aimed at some of the good mares races here and across the water.