Churchstonewarrior is likely to be stepped up in class over the festive period following a battling victory at Thurles on Thursday.
A runaway winner of a bumper at the County Tipperary circuit in January, Jonathan Sweeney’s charge made a successful start to the current campaign over hurdles at Sligo last month.
The six-year-old had more on his plate in the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle, with recent winner Idas Boy among his four rivals.
But after travelling strongly for much of the way under Denis O’Regan, Churchstonewarrior knuckled down to get the better of Noel Meade’s charge by half a length.
“It was a good performance and Denis was good on him – he rode him with fierce confidence, that’s the way he rides and he was very good,” said Sweeney.
“He is a lovely, improving horse and is coming forward the whole time. I still think it’ll be another year before he is a proper horse.
“Today’s race was a grand race to progress in and we’ll see what’s coming up. We might wait for the Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle at Limerick over Christmas.”
The opening BetVictor Irish EBF Beginners Chase looked a strong race on paper, with Gordon Elliott’s The Bosses Oscar and the Willie Mullins-trained Stratum the market principals after Meade’s likely favourite Beacon Edge was withdrawn.
But victory went to Paul O’Flynn’s 9-1 shot West Cork Wildway, who passed the post with a length and a half in hand under Darragh O’Keeffe.
“He was very good. He did today what we hoped he’d do the last day in Killarney when he was just unlucky and made a mistake first time over fences,” said O’Flynn.
“He learned from it and is a nice horse going forwards.
“I don’t know how far he’ll go, but I’ll take him as far as he can.”
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