Jockey Ruby Walsh, who is facing a dilemma as to where he rides over the Christmas period, was in double form at Tramore on Saturday.
He joined forces with his retaining stable of Willie Mullins to take the opening mares maiden hurdle courtesy of Valyssa Monterg.
A three-time bumper winner in her native France, the daughter of Network was an expensive failure on her Irish debut over a longer trip at Thurles but some of the losses were recouped here.
Once again she went to post an odds-on favourite as connections felt that the two mile trip was more to her liking. This proved to be correct as she was always close to the pace before hitting the front after the second last flight. With Walsh keeping her up to her work she beat Mystic Lass by four and a half lengths, with a further 16 lengths back to the third finisher Barbalicious.
This was a workmanlike rather than brilliant performance from the winner. Much bigger tests lie ahead if she is to justify her huge purchase price, so it will be interesting to see how she fares when upped in class.
Templemore trainer Leslie Young provided Walsh with the second leg of his double when Cappacurry Zak did his best to throw the race away before crossing the line a length and three-parts in front of the rank outsider Perfect Woman.
Having run well over the course and distance back in April Cappacurry Zak subsequently disappointed when finishing a long way behind Mount Gunnery at Clonmel. However, the booking of Walsh looked significant and he came in for plenty of support.
Ridden from off the pace, the five-year-old came with a great rattle in the straight but once he hit the front he began to pull himself up and it took a lot of persuasion from the saddle to get him home in front. In his post-race remarks Young revealed that his charge is a chaser in the making and will change codes sooner rather than later.
Nina Carberry came to the meeting with just one mount, but came away with a winner when Altiepix justified cramped odds in the bumper.
Winner of his sole point-to-point, the five-year-old was a huge disappointment on his bumper bow at Gowran Park but shaped much better when an unconsidered second to Alpha Des Obeaux over hurdles at Punchestown last month.
The fact that the winner that day is in the same ownership and is well regarded spoke volumes for that run. It was not surprising to see him start at such odds on in spite of this tight circuit.
Always travelling well, Altiepix spilled ahead early in the straight and drew clear in the final furlong to hit the wire six and a half lengths to the good from the Tony Martin runner Delvin Road.
Winning handler Gordon Elliott said this horse is a three mile chaser in the making, so when that is put into context this was a bonus. Novice hurdling now beckons, but the larger obstacles will be the plan next term.
There was plenty to like about the performance of the runner-up Delvin Road. He has shown promise in his two outings to date and, being by Beneficial, he will improve when he has an obstacle in front of him. He is one to keep on the right side of in a maiden hurdle.
On paper the two mile and six 75-102 handicap chase looked an open affair. Punters made Mallards In Flight favourite at 7/2, but she had to be content with second place behind West Of The Edge.
Having hit the crossbar a number of times over hurdles West Of The Edge looks a better horse over fences and is running off a favourable mark. Given a polished ride by 5lb claiming amateur Declan Queally, he recovered from one or two minor errors to lead at the penultimate fence and drew away to win unchallenged by eight and a half lengths.
Winning trainer James Dullea has plenty of options for the six-year-old, including a possible return to hurdling, but much will depend on how the handicapper views this particular result.
Former top amateur Robbie McNamara rode his first winner as a professional when Bothair Clei claimed the two mile and six beginners chase.
A useful staying handicap hurdle, the Snurge gelding has not set the world on fire so far since going chasing but McNamara got the best out of him, producing him in the straight to reel in the longtime leader Company Coming in the shadow of the post for a half length success.
Described by McNamara as a nice staying horse, the winner will now head to Limerick over the Yuletide period.
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