Johnstown trainer John Nicholson has a nice hurdling prospect on his hands in Mill Forge, who landed a decent two mile and three maiden hurdle at Naas on Sunday.
Having promising in two bumper outings the seven-year-old spent a year on the sidelines, but created a favourable impression when finishing third on his hurdling debut at Fairyhouse.
That effort led to plenty of support in the betting market at the weekend, in spite of the confidence in the Danny Mullins-ridden Investmentsuccess.
Given a cracking ride by Danny Benson, Mill Forge was never too far out of his ground. Striking for home after the third last, he responded well to the urgings of his rider to beat Noel Meade’s Champoleon by threeparts of a length.
This was a gutsy display from the winner, who travelled and jumped well. On this evidence he is entitled to take his chance at a higher level.
Danny Mullins had an uncomfortable time aboard the favourite, who raced keen and could only finish fifth. Held in high esteem by connections, the Oscar gelding will need to brush up on his jumping if he is to deliver on his bumper promise.
After opening her account in a Sligo bumper Lyric Theatre was being touted as well above average. Although she came unstuck next time up at Galway her form since has worked out well. As a consequence she went to post a warm favourite for the father and son team of Willie and Patrick Mullins.
Travelling well in mid division the five-year-old arrived on the bridle early in the straight. Patrick only had to push her out hands and heel to land the spoils by nine and a half lengths from Jessica Harrington’s Sandymount Duke.
This was a good staying display by Lyrical Theatre, who may now go down the novice hurdle route. Being out of a Bob Back mare, stamina should not be a problem for her.
Niall Madden enjoyed his first success since returning from injury when getting Harvey Logan home a narrow winner of the two mile and three 103-125 handicap hurdle for the Noel Meade yard.
Having failed to deliver when well-fancied in the past the five-year-old made his handicap debut off a very favourable mark.
Madden was content to bide his time aboard Harvey Logan before pressing forward going to the final flight. From here the combination pulled out just about enough to hit the wire half a length to the good from Elishpour.
The winner stuck to his task well and is certainly well handicapped, so he should be capable of collecting again before he climbs up the weights.
Racing got underway with an impressive victory for Endless Drama in the two-year-old maiden for colts and geldings.
Trained by Ger Lyons, Endless Drama is a big strong looking colt with seemingly a lot of potential if one is to judge by the way he was supported in the betting market. Jockey Colin Keane had him smartly away and it was clear from the two furlong marker that the race as a contest was over, as the son of Lope de Vega galloped all over his rivals. His five and a half success hardly did justice to his superiority.
It has been a great week for his Ballylinch Stud-based freshman sire, who had both a Group One and Group Three winner across the water.
Lyons said that this is a very promising colt that has been given time to come to himself. He will now be put away until the Spring, when he will be aimed at one of the 2000 Guineas trials.
The time-honoured Birdcatcher Nursery is traditionally one of the hardest races to win, but this year produced an easy winner as Captain My Captain justified favouritism almost doing handstands.
A maiden coming into the race, the Captain Rio colt raced just off the pace in this six furlong event before scooting clear from the furlong marker. With rider Shane Foley easing him down he passed the post three and a half lengths clear of the rank outsider Cleveland Street.
Winning handler John Murphy revealed that his charge has always worked like a good horse and will make a smashing three-year-old. This was a first juvenile victory of the season for the trainer, who had a big team of two-year-olds who are unlikely to see a racecourse until next term.
Billy Lee continues to clock up the winners and he was seen to good effect when swooping late to land the valuable mile and a half 84-105 handicap aboard Rocky Bleier.
Slowly away, Rocky Bleier still had a mountain to climb turning for home but finished with a wet sail to lead almost in the shadow of the post and win going away by a length and a half from Bazaar.
Having suffered badly from sore shins Rocky Bleier had been off the track for several months and was thought to have need the run, but he surprised connections at odds of 20/1.