Concertista takes centre stage

Concertista confirmed her superiority over Minella Melody with another smooth win in the Advent Insurance Irish EBF Mares Hurdle at Leopardstown.

A winner at Cheltenham in March, she was a smooth scorer on her return to action and after her latest win looks sure to take plenty of beating is she travels back to the Cotswolds in the spring.

Dropped in off the pace by Paul Townend as Rachael Blackmore set a stiff tempo on Minella Melody, the 4-5 favourite made ground easily before coming away to win by six and a half lengths and continue Willie Mullins’ domination of the meeting.

Betfair cut her to 3-1 for the Mares’ Hurdle in March.

“She was very good,” said Mullins.

“It was a searching pace. We thought Mary Frances would go on, but Rachael went ahead. That suited our other mare My Sister Sarah.

“Paul elected to drop in, and I thought he might be a little too far out of it turning into the back straight. The pace up front got her back into the race. She was very brave and very good to do what she did there today.

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“I’d imagine the Mares’ Hurdle is the target. She’d look nicely positioned for that race.

“We’ll come back here first for the Dublin Racing Festival. She’s improving all the time.”

Stattler jumps the last in front
Stattler jumps the last in front (PA Wire)

Stattler was another winner for Mullins and Townend when fending off stablemate Glens Of Antrim in the Pigsback.com Maiden Hurdle.

Successful on his racecourse debut last season, he had failed to win in three outings since – but the form of his maiden hurdle effort was boosted by the winner, who subsequently went close in graded company.

Townend appeared to have everything under control before Mark Walsh arrived with his challenge on Glens Of Antrim – but the 13-8 favourite had enough left to win by three lengths.

“He’s a galloper and a chaser in the making,” said Townend.

“He handled that trip in a maiden, and I’d say he can always step up in trip. He improved from his first run.”

Midnight Maestro’s win in the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Chase may not register with an especially wide audience, but it is a race jockey Tom Kelly will never forget.

Not only was it his first winner under Rules, but he had never even ridden one in a point-to-point either.

Winning trainer Enda Bolger said: “That was nice. I was a small bit worried when they took out the last fence, because he’s a great jumper.

“That’s Tom’s first winner, and I’m delighted for him. He’s been working for us for the last year. He’s well able to do the light weights, so he’ll get his chances.

“This horse will probably end up going down the cross-country route as well.”

None of Gordon Elliott’s big guns fired over the four days, but he did win the closing bumper with Hollow Games (1-2 favourite).

Winning jockey Jamie Codd said: “This is a very good horse. He’s a lovely staying prospect, and it was nice to get that done today.

“He’s still a big green horse, he’s 16-3, and he’s going to improve again.

“He’s a really nice addition for (owners) Noel and Valerie (Moran) and he’s going to be good.

“He’s a staying horse for the future. When you’re able to do that, win two bumpers, you’re more than likely going to end up being a good horse.”

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