Paul Townend hit back with a treble of his own at Fairyhouse in his effort to keep tabs on Jack Kennedy in the battle to be champion jockey.
Kennedy moved 19 clear with a four-timer at Down Royal on Tuesday but just 24 hours later that was back down to 16, as Townend partnered three of his boss Willie Mullins’ four winners at the rescheduled meeting.
Spread Boss Ted (2-5 favourite) had to be ridden right out to justify cramped odds in the Easter Festival March 30th – April 1st Novice Hurdle, in which Kennedy’s mount Binge Worthy was a bitter disappointment and finished a tailed off last of four.
“I went out to settle him and thought I was after doing too good of a job at halfway!” said Townend.
Spindleberry (5-2) looked the Mullins second string in the HAY “How Are Ya” Campaign Mares Maiden Hurdle behind the Mark Walsh-ridden Jolie Coeur Allen but she was an impressive winner, with the favourite only third.
“Coming off a break, that will knock the freshness out of her and she showed a very willing attitude to stay going after being as keen as she was for the first mile of the race,” said Townend.
“She’s lightly-raced too and only had one run in a bumper, so I think she’ll improve away.”
O’Moore Park (8-11 favourite) brought up Townend’s treble with a nine-length win in the Fairyhouse Supporting Treo Eile Maiden Hurdle.
Townend said: “He benefitted from the run the last day, which knocked the freshness out of him and brought him on.
“He’s a chaser – he’s no respect for a hurdle when he meets one wrong.
“On that ground, to pick up like he did when I gave him a squeeze at the back of the last was nice. He’s progressing away and is going to be a chaser.
“I think he can go further.”
Walsh did get on the scoresheet himself when Mirazur West (8-11 favourite), a full-brother to high-class-but-fragile stablemate Ferny Hollow, won the Easter Festival Early Bird Maiden Hurdle.
There was a sad postscript to the race, with Gordon Elliott’s D B Cooper, the winner’s main market rival, suffering a fatal injury.
Mirazur West was left unchanged at 14-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by Paddy Power and Betfair.
“He’s still learning and settled a lot better today than he did in Leopardstown,” said Walsh.
“He’s well able to jump, there is no issue with that anyway, it’s just keeping him relaxed.
“I only found out when I pulled up that Jack’s horse had gone wrong. It takes away from the race and is very unfortunate.”
Other Recent Posts by This Author:
- Aintree officials confident of dealing with any attempt at protest repeat
- Willie Mullins starting to formulate National plans
- Handicapper says to expect just a handful of British-trained National starters
- Long-term National plan coming together for Cromwell and Vanillier
- Elliott assembling bumper squad in search of fourth National