Tag Archive for: Fairyhouse

I Am Maximus sees off Vanillier in Bobbyjo

I Am Maximus booked his Randox Grand National ticket with an easy victory over last year’s Aintree runner-up Vanillier in the Tote.ie Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse.

Trained by Willie Mullins, I Am Maximus was returning to the scene of his finest hour having won the Irish Grand National last season and after this display, he is now a general 12-1 chance for Aintree on April 13.

Mullins used the Bobbjyo as an Aintree prep for Hedgehunter, who went on to win on Merseyside in 2005, but I Am Maximus looked to face a stiff task giving 12lb away to Gavin Cromwell’s Vanillier.

Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, hears from Jody McGravey, and trainer Willie Mullins
Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, hears from Jody McGravey, and trainer Willie Mullins (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Jody McGarvey did the steering on the evens favourite, travelling well throughout the near three-mile-two-furlong affair before thoroughly asserting his authority in the straight, cruising home by 14 lengths.

Mullins said: “I thought it was a magnificent performance considering how badly he jumped going away from the stands.

“He just missed one or two there and Jody left him alone and let him find his own feet.

“When he got half down the back and around the fifth last once he saw the stands, I think he just clicked into a another gear.

“I don’t know how good he is but he’s certainly improving with every run. However, he does love Fairyhouse and maybe this is his track, he certainly has an engine.

“It’s very hard to quicken in this ground, he has a big engine in there.

“I’d imagine he goes for the Grand National, he would look a Gold Cup horse in time but I’d imagine Aintree is his objective.

“I’m not worried about ground for him. I don’t know how good he is yet because he just keeps improving.”

I Am Maximus survived a slight blunder at the last
I Am Maximus survived a slight blunder at the last (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Sean Flanagan was not too disappointed with Vanillier’s effort in second, with the gelding having finished a half-length second in the race last year to Kemboy before going on to the National itself.

Vanillier will have a reduced 8lb advantage over I Am Maximus at Aintree and his rider is eager for the big day.

He said: “I’m very happy and I think he’s run better in the race this year than he did last year. There were a lot higher quality horses in the race this year.

“He’s probably got going a bit early in the race, but I wanted to get a proper race into him as I didn’t think they were going to go quick. Without forcing him I was trying to force the tempo of the race. I think he’s ran well.

“I’m looking forward to Aintree.”

Vanillier backed to boost Aintree hopes at Fairyhouse

Gavin Cromwell expects Vanillier to take a step forward in the Tote.ie Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse on Saturday as he builds up towards a return to Aintree.

The grey flew home in the Grand National last year – and passed all bar the winner Corach Rambler.

He has been allotted 4lb more in his quest for National glory this term but first he must take on last season’s Irish National winner I Am Maximus and the Gordon Elliott pair of Fury Road and Minella Crooner.

In three runs to date this season, Vanillier has failed to get anywhere near troubling the judge.

However, Cromwell said in his William Hill blog: “Vanillier is certainly moving in the right direction and I’m happy with him ahead of the Bobbyjo Chase.

“We’re hoping to see a good run here which should set him up well for the Grand National. He’s taken a bit of time to get to where I’d like him to be, but we weighed him on Friday morning and he’s a similar weight to where he was this time last year, which was encouraging to see.

“We were happy with the weight the handicapper gave him for the race at Aintree. It’s a lovely racing weight considering how well he ran in it last year and you can’t really make any excuses on that front.

“It would be amazing to win a Grand National and I do think he’s capable of doing it, as we know he likes the fences and has the stamina. He’s coming along nicely and Saturday will hopefully bring him forward again.”

Velvet Elvis calls the tune at Fairyhouse

Velvet Elvis took full advantage of a fall at the third-last fence from odds-on favourite Corbetts Cross to win a drama-filled Fairyhouse Easter Festival 30th March To 1st April Rated Chase for the second year in a row.

The eight-year-old was trained by Thomas Gibney when successful in the staying contest 12 months ago, but was making his first start for Gavin Cromwell as he was sent off at 7-1 in the hands of Keith Donoghue.

Always at the head of the proceedings, Velvet Elvis escaped being caught up in the incident at the third-last fence where Corbetts Cross (1-4) came to ground just as he was beginning to edge his way into the four-runner contest.

Derek O’Connor’s mount collided with Gordon Elliott’s Run Wild Fred in mid-air, with both succumbing on the landing side of the obstacle.

It left Velvet Elvis to battle out the finish Eklat De Rire and Henry de Bromhead’s charge ultimately proved no match, trailing home three and a quarter lengths adrift.

Cromwell said: “We’ll take it! We’ll never know what would have happened, but he jumped well.

“He won this race last year and a small field is probably ideal for him and he loves that ground.

“Hopefully, that will be a confidence booster for him.”

Victory in this race 12 months teed-up a shot at the Grand National for Velvet Elvis, but without an entry for Aintree this year, his new handler suggested they may target a return to Fairyhouse for the Irish equivalent.

Cromwell added: “I suppose we’ll look at the Irish National. He’s also in the National Trial at Haydock, but that will probably come too soon for him as it’s Saturday week. We’ll see how he comes out of this, but he’s very unlikely to go there.

“He’s probably not terribly well handicapped, but at the same time you’d have to consider an Irish National.”

There may have been no joy for owner JP McManus with top novice chasing prospect Corbetts Cross, but he gained compensation when Miss Pronunciation carried the green and gold silks to success in the Book Your Advanced Tickets Now Rated Novice Hurdle.

Miss Pronunciation brought up a hat-trick at Fairyhouse
Miss Pronunciation brought up a hat-trick at Fairyhouse (PA)

Padraig Roche’s seven-year-old coasted to a facile six-length triumph under Mark Walsh with the talented mare recording her third-straight victory this season.

Roche said: “That was great, she did it well. She’s starting to settle a lot better than she was and I’d say that’s bringing out the improvement in her.

“She loves that ground. We had the mother, she was a Topanoora mare and she loved that heavy ground. When it’s like that we’ll keep going and see what there is.

“The mother stayed but this one’s not slow, I’d say two miles on that ground is her trip. She’s improving the whole time.”

Jade shines in Fairyhouse romp

Jade De Grugy added to a successful Saturday afternoon for Willie Mullins as she led home a one-two for the trainer in the SBK Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The Closutton maestro enjoyed a sterling few hours in Britain, with Capodanno landing the Cotswold Chase and Lossiemouth making an impressive seasonal bow in the Unibet Hurdle at Cheltenham, while at Doncaster Ashroe Diamond ran out an comfortable Grade Two winner.

Jade De Grugy highlighted Mullins’ strength in the mares’ division as she obliged as an 8-13 favourite in this Grade Three affair.

One of four for the trainer in a seven-runner field, Jade De Grugy won a French bumper before joining Mullins and made an impressive start for the team when registering a 15-length maiden hurdle win at Leopardstown last month.

Stepping up in class, she showed a fine change of gear for Brian Hayes to coast home a six-and-a-half-length winner from A Penny A Hundred, with the Ryanair Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham a possible target.

Assistant trainer David Casey said: “She was very impressive. She did things right all the way, she jumps brilliant. She travelled and quickened up in the straight. Brian was very happy with her.

“She’s a very sensible mare and always did everything right, we’re delighted with her.

“She has the race at Cheltenham and the Grade One back here obviously. There is a short gap between them but I’d imagine they will be the two targets.

“She was very good in Leopardstown and obviously very good again today.”

Western Diego (11-8 favourite) was also a winner for Mullins and Hayes in the SBK Maiden Hurdle while Argento Boy (evens favourite) made it a hat-trick on the card for the handler in the SBK (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race, with Jody Townend aboard.

Mullins four-timer features Townend treble

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 looks sure to be better over fences
O’Moore Park looks sure to be better over fences (PA)

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.”

Mirazur West could add to JP McManus' strong hand in the Supreme
Mirazur West could add to JP McManus’ strong hand in the Supreme (PA)

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.”

Cold snap causing havoc for National Hunt racing

Officials at Lingfield have admitted they will need “the best of the forecast” after calling an inspection for 8.30am on Wednesday ahead of day one of the track’s Winter Million Festival on Friday.

The Surrey circuit is due to play host to a quality three-day fixture, with high-class jumps cards on Friday and Sunday sandwiching a morning all-weather meeting on Saturday.

The Grade Two Lightning Novices’ Chase and the £100,000 Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Hurdle are due to take place on Friday – but with parts of the track frozen on Tuesday afternoon and further sub-zero temperatures forecast, the card appears to be under serious threat.

“We got down to minus 7C last night and we have frost under the fleece that we used to cover the whole track on Saturday,” said clerk of the course Stephanie Wethered.

“We’ve called an inspection following that, and with the ongoing freezing temperatures this week. We’re forecast minus 2C tonight and then minus 5C on Wednesday and Thursday night.

“We’ll need the best of the forecast for Friday’s fixture.”

Temperatures are due to rise later in the week, giving Wethered optimism that the weekend action will go ahead as scheduled.

She added: “The weather is going to change for Saturday and Sunday’s racing, hopefully.”

The current cold snap will have a major impact on the jumps racing programme across the country in the coming days, with Tuesday’s National Hunt meetings at Chepstow and Plumpton both abandoned due to frozen ground.

Hopes of any racing over obstacles taking place on Wednesday hinge on a precautionary 8am check at Southwell, with the team at Newbury making an early decision to draw stumps on Tuesday afternoon ahead of their scheduled fixture.

Thursday’s meetings at Newcastle and Wincanton have already been called off, while Ludlow’s card on the same day is subject to an 8.30am precautionary inspection on Wednesday.

Fairyhouse’s Thursday meeting, meanwhile, will have to pass a noon inspection on Wednesday.

Brendan Sheridan, IHRB clerk of the course, said on Tuesday morning: “The track is currently unfit for racing due to overnight frost.

“Parts of the track are frozen following two nights of low temperatures, with last night getting down to at least minus 3C.

“We don’t have the most favourable forecast with temperatures only rising to a high of 2C for a couple of hours today before dropping again tonight back to minus 3C.

“In light of that forecast, and due to the current ground conditions, we will have a 12pm inspection on Wednesday to assess the prospects of racing here at Fairyhouse on Thursday.”

Chepstow and Plumpton cards frozen off

There will be no National Hunt racing in Britain on Tuesday after scheduled fixtures at both Chepstow and Plumpton were abandoned due to frozen ground.

An 8am inspection was called ahead of racing at Chepstow, but with temperatures dipping just below minus 6C overnight officials were able to make an early call.

It was a similar story at Plumpton, where frost sheets deployed across the whole courses were not enough to save the day.

An inspection was scheduled for 8.30am, but the decision was made at around 6am to draw stumps, with temperatures in Sussex also getting down to minus 6C.

Officials at Newbury will stage an inspection at 3pm to assess the chances of racing on Wednesday.

The entirety of the Berkshire circuit was covered on Friday, but parts of the course were frozen on Tuesday morning.

An inspection will determine whether the track is frost free and raceable on Tuesday afternoon, with another cold night forecast.

The track at Southwell was deemed raceable under the fleece covers on Tuesday morning, but with temperatures set to fall again overnight a precautionary check has been called for 8am ahead of Wednesday’s fixture.

Thursday’s jumps meeting at Newcastle has already been called off following a Tuesday morning inspection, while Fairyhouse’s card on the same day is subject to a noon inspection on Wednesday, with the course declared unfit for racing on Tuesday morning.

Brendan Sheridan, IHRB Clerk of the Course, said: “Ahead of declarations this morning for racing on Thursday, the track is currently unfit for racing due to overnight frost.

“Parts of the track are frozen following two nights of low temperatures, with last night getting down to at least minus 3C.

“We don’t have the most favourable forecast with temperatures only rising to a high of 2C for a couple of hours today before dropping again tonight back to minus 3C.

“In light of that forecast and due to the current ground conditions, we will have a 12pm inspection on Wednesday to assess the prospects of racing here at Fairyhouse on Thursday.”

As the temperatures refused to rise in daylight, Wincanton’s meeting on Thursday was also called off early.

With no prospect of the frost coming out of the ground clerk of the course Dan Cooper felt there was no point delaying the inevitable.

Uncle Phil caps off Mullins treble at Fairyhouse

Uncle Phil posted a smart performance to claim the SBK Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse.

Willie Mullins’ charge was having his first start in handicap company, having finished third in the Grade Two Craddockstown Novice Chase when last seen in November.

Paul Townend was positive from the off and the seven-year-old was clearly full of running coming to the last fence in the extended two-mile-one-furlong heat.

Uncle Phil (11-2) duly stretched away on the run to the line, beating Lucid Dreams by three and three-quarter lengths, with 5-4 favourite Letsbeclearaboutit a further two lengths back in third.

Townend said: “That was very nice. His run in Punchestown was decent, he probably got his own way that day.

“Today he was jumping so well that he probably puts them under pressure behind and the drying ground helped.

“You don’t know what to expect with him to be honest, but I thought his jumping and the run the last day would bring him a long way. Every dry day was helping.”

Hunters Yarn is now a 16-1 chance with Betfair for the Arkle after completing a treble for Mullins and Townend in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase.

Sent off the 8-15 favourite despite falling on his chasing bow, Hunters Yarn made a notable jumping error at the second last but his class told in the end, as he triumphed by 10 lengths.

“Not without a scare but he’s learned how to save himself and he settled it quickly again after that, which was nice,” said Townend.

“He jumped very well up to that and it was just the one mistake again, but he went down and jumped the last well after it. You have to be taken with him.

“He hit it some belt and for a second I was thinking ‘not again’. I thought the fall the last day would help him find his feet and figure it out. I’m disappointed he did it again but at least he was able to recover from it today.

“It shows that he has a big engine, to recover from it and win as impressively as he did.”

Miss Manzor (6-4 favourite) had earlier initiated the hat-trick for Mullins and Townend, as she made the most of a drop in class in the Racing TV Club Day At Fairyhouse Hurdle, seeing off stablemate Karia Des Blaises.

“She has a lovely attitude and she jumped brilliant, with the experience she had in France,” said Townend. “She stays really well and was a simple ride.

“It’s a tricky time of year with juveniles and I’m forever getting them wrong. I didn’t think there was much between these two today but I got the run of the race.

“She’ll progress away, where she ends up I don’t know. I used her experience and was able to keep it simple. She’s quick through the air and has a willing attitude.”

Betfair make her a 12-1 chance for the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Festival and a 33-1 shot for the Triumph.

All eyes were on Romeo Coolio (evens favourite) in the closing SBK INH Flat Race, as the £420,000 purchase made his debut under rules for Gordon Elliott.

Ridden by Harry Swan, the point-to-point winner was made to work a bit by 22-1 shot Sporting Glory but had a length and a quarter in hand at the finish.

“He’s a good horse, it was a messy race as they went no gallop. I missed a bit of time with him a month or two ago and he’s having a proper blow, he’s going to come on a lot from it,” said Elliott.

“If I didn’t come here, I had to go to Navan, there aren’t a lot of races for him going forward and I wanted to get a run into him.

“On the day, probably 80 per cent of mine ran below par, so I was nervous going into the race but I think he’s a proper horse.

“It’s all about the future with this horse, whatever he does this year is only going to be a bonus – I think he’s a real one.

“The boys are big supporters of the yard and they flew over from England today, so I’m delighted to get them a winner.

“He’ll go straight to Cheltenham now. I’m not worried about today, the race was very messy and it didn’t work out. They went no gallop and he’s a big galloping horse. He’s a stayer.”

Fairyhouse could be on the agenda for Judicieuse Allen

Judicieuse Allen could be set for a step up in class on her next start having shown a blistering turn of foot when making a winning start for trainer Willie Mullins over the Christmas period.

A €100,000 buy, the five-year-old was sourced by Valentine Bloodstock’s Ed Partridge in partnership with Thurloe Thoroughbred’s Jess Stafford from French handler Gabriel Leenders and was bred by Bruno Vagne, the man responsible for producing Grade One and Cheltenham Festival champions Espoir D’Allen and Envoi Allen.

Sent off the 6-5 favourite for her eagerly-awaited first start in the Thurloe Thoroughbred silks at Limerick, she produced a performance full of potential as she sprinted home at a rate of knots in the hands of Adrian Heskin to claim first prize close to the line.

Delighted with the result, connections can now look forward to the future, with a possible outing in Fairyhouse’s SBK Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle on January 27 raised as an option by her trainer.

“She has come out of the race OK – which is the main thing – and I think the plan is to run her at the end of the month at Fairyhouse,” said Thurloe’s James Stafford.

“It’s very early days, but she showed a nice turn of foot that day (at Limerick) and I don’t think it was just other horses stopping. I think she finished quite well having got into a bit of trouble.

“She’s a nice mare and there’s definitely ability there. She showed a bit in France before we bought her and she certainly showed her turn of foot at Limerick. I was very pleased and Willie was pleased, which is the main thing.

“We are very pleased with her, but it is still early days – it was only her first run so we must not get too carried away.

“We haven’t had a long-term discussion with Willie about it, but the Solerina was mooted and that is where we are at the moment. But the fact he is even considering it is quite a good sign. Willie will decide, but the end of the month is definitely something we have on the radar.”

Although at the early stages of hopefully a long and fruitful career, Judicieuse Allen is already a part of Closutton folklore having been part of Mullins’ fantastic across-the-card seven-timer at Limerick and Leopardstown on December 27.

It was Judicieuse Allen that kick-started that fabulous afternoon for the master trainer, who expressed his delight at seeing the Thurloe youngster find the scoresheet.

Stafford added: “Willie sent me a very nice message after the race when he was having winners all over the place – he had seven winners that day.

“I called her one of his magnificent seven and I think she set the ball rolling. I got a very nice message saying how thrilled he was and he wouldn’t have done that just for the sake of it.”

Jade De Grugy could take in Fairyhouse on the way to Cheltenham

Jade De Grugy could put her Cheltenham Festival aspirations to the test at Fairyhouse later this month following an impressive debut for Willie Mullins at Leopardstown.

The five-year-old was snapped up for €230,000 after winning at Saint-Brieuc in late 2022, and after a 452-day absence finally made her first start for her Closutton training team and new owner Kenny Alexander over the festive period.

Sent off the 5-4 favourite in the hands of Paul Townend for a two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle, Jade De Grugy delivered a blistering display, making light work of her rivals to romp home by 15 lengths.

She is now poised for a step up in class for her next start, with Fairyhouse’s SBK Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle on January 27 seen as one possible spot where Jade De Grugy can tune-up for a shot at the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in the spring.

“She was very impressive,” said Alexander’s racing manager Peter Molony.

“We are not sure what she beat, but what she did was very good and Paul was very impressed with her – we are quite excited about her.

Jade De Grugy impressed at Leopardstown
Jade De Grugy impressed at Leopardstown (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Every option will be open, but something like the Solerina at the end of the month might be something for her.

“If she progresses in the right direction you would be dreaming of the Mares’ Novices’ at Cheltenham. It’s what we’re thinking of at the moment and hoping for.”

Mullins also unleashed another exciting prospect in the colours of Alexander during Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival with French import Kargese finishing second in the Grade Two Mercedes-Benz South Dublin Juvenile Hurdle.

Kargese (left) had only Kala Conti ahead of her on debut for Willie Mullins
Kargese (left) had only Kala Conti ahead of her on debut for Willie Mullins (Niall Carson/PA)

It was the same position Gala Marceau filled in the race on stable bow 12 months ago and Kargese will seek to repeat Gala Marceau’s Grade One winning exploits in her next start at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Molony added: “We were happy with her, she just didn’t settle great on the day. Considering that, she ran very well and the winner had had two runs already so again we’re quite excited about her.

“Hopefully all going well she goes to the Dublin Racing Festival and if things progress well, we will dream of a go at the Triumph Hurdle.”

Riviere D’etel stars in Elliott treble at Fairyhouse

Riviere D’etel ran away with the John & Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase for Gordon Elliott at Fairyhouse.

The seven-year-old was one of five contenders in the race and a 100-30 chance, as Willie Mullins’ Allegorie De Vassy was the 8-13 favourite.

On testing ground, there was no contest, however, and it was Elliott’s runner that won by an unchallenged 33 lengths under Jack Kennedy.

“She’ll probably be very hard to place, I’d say going right-handed really suited her and Jack said she loved the ground,” said Elliott.

“Jack said she stayed very well and we’re delighted with her.

“I don’t know where I’ll go with her but I’d love to go right-handed.”

When asked if that would rule out Cheltenham, Elliott added: “It wouldn’t be out of the question, I’ll talk to Noel (Moran, owner) and see what they want to do, but it just might not be the right place for her.”

Mollys Mango returned to winning ways for the same trainer in the Wishing Everyone A Healthy 2024 Mares Hurdle.

The six-year-old started the campaign in winning form at Thurles but was pulled up last time at Wexford.

She was still the 2-9 favourite at Fairyhouse and certainly looked to be back on song with a 17-length success under Kennedy.

“Jack said she gave him a good feel again, she was disappointing the last day in Wexford but she gave him a good feel there today,” said Elliott.

“We’ll probably come back here in three weeks’ time for the Solerina, try and see if we can get a bit of black type.

“She didn’t turn up for whatever reason the last day, maybe we ran her back too soon.”

Elliott completed a treble when Staffordshire Knot landed the Jump Into January @ Fairyhouse (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race under Harry Swan at 9-4.

Mullins’ I Will Be Baie made a winning hurdles debut in the ITM Irish Stallion Trail 12-13 January Maiden Hurdle.

The six-year-old is a point-to-point and a bumper winner and set off at 11-8 under Paul Townend, jumping fluently to secure a two-and-three-quarter-length success over Elliott’s odds-on favourite My Trump Card.

David Casey, Mullins’ assistant, said: “It was great, he did it well and jumped well.

“We weren’t sure how he’d handle the heavy ground but Paul said he went through it okay. He said he won well.

“He won his point-to-point well and jumped well throughout. Hopefully, we’ll find a race for him in a few weeks and see where we go from there.

“The runner-up was a decent winner of a bumper and had a bit of jumping experience on his side, he set a nice standard and I thought it was a good performance.”

Mullins had another winner on the card with Nick Rockett, successful by seven lengths as the 2-7 favourite in the McInerney Beginners Chase.

“He was good. He improved a little bit from his first run, he obviously jumped very well,” said Casey.

“He did what you’d hope he would do, with natural progression, today.

“Paul (Townend) was very happy and said he was comfortable everywhere.

“He’ll get further, that was two-five today and he’d have no issue getting a trip. He’s a good, relaxed horse and jumps very well. The boss will make a plan now.”

Karl Thornton had a double on the day as Don’t Talk took the Tote+ Pays You More At Tote.ie Handicap Hurdle at 9-2 and Mighty Oak Lad won the Fairyhouse Membership 2024 Handicap Hurdle at 7-2.

“That’s nice. There wasn’t much pace on, and he’s a good jumper, so Donagh (Meyler, jockey) lobbed away in front,” said Thornton of the latter performance.

“He said he made a mistake at the first in Thurles and his race was over, everything was happening a bit quick for him around there, as he’s a big old horse.

“I’d say he’s definitely suited by a bigger track. I’d say he’ll stay hurdling, we’ll give him a couple more runs and see if he can improve again.”

Of Don’t Talk, the trainer commented: “He did it well. Danny (Gilligan) gave him a good ride and everything was straightforward, he seemed to improve from the last day. We thought he had.

“They get caught eventually (by the handicapper) but he’s definitely improving and he jumps a fence well.

“The horses were sick all last year, we just tried to change things around a bit and everything seems healthy now. When they are healthy, you can make a plan, but when they aren’t, you can’t do anything.”

Sa Fureur takes advantage of Hunters Yarn tumble

Sa Fureur profited from the final fence exit of red-hot favourite Hunters Yarn to open his account over fences in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase at Fairyhouse.

The top-class pair of Blue Lord and El Fabiolo had landed the last two runnings of the extended two-mile contest for trainer Willie Mullins, jockey Paul Townend and owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, and Hunters Yarn was a 1-3 shot to make it a hat-trick for all concerned on his chasing bow.

A three-time bumper winner and twice successful over hurdles, Hunters Yarn looked to have victory in the bag after cruising to the front but blundered badly and crashed out at the last obstacle.

Gordon Elliott’s Sa Fureur, who had fallen on his fencing bow behind Mullins-trained star Facile Vega at Navan four weeks ago, was left in splendid isolation following Hunters Yarn’s tumble and came home with 40 lengths in hand over the eventual runner-up Byker under Jack Kennedy.

“He was a fortunate winner, but he was going to be a nice second and was running a good race,” Elliott said afterwards.

“I just hope the faller is okay, we had a bit of luck on our side – if you haven’t luck at this game, you have nothing.

“Jack said he showed a good attitude. We’ll probably look at one of those rated novice chases, or we could step him into a handicap.”

Elliott and Kennedy doubled up in the Hytech EQ Ultra 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle, with Pacini justifying 5-4 favouritism with relative ease.

The three-year-old set the standard on jumping form, after finishing fifth and fourth respectively on his first two attempts, and he made it third time lucky with a six-and-a-half-length verdict.

Elliott added: “It looked like a grand opportunity and he did it well.

“He’s been working well at home and we fancied him the first day, he just got a fright. He jumped a lot better there today and he stayed going well. He’s going to win his races.”

Kennedy ended the afternoon with a treble after steering Ted Walsh’s 10-1 shot Pictures Of Home to a head victory in the Tote Always SP Or Better @Fairyhouse Handicap Hurdle.

Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore combined to land the Lacey’s Plumbing & Heating Supplies Maiden Hurdle with 7-2 chance Chigorin.

O’Moore Park, the 4-6 favourite to make a winning comeback after 596 days off the track, was ultimately a little disappointing in finishing third.

De Bromhead’s assistant, Robbie Power, said of the winner’s display: “We’re delighted with that. He stepped forward nicely from Naas, we thought he wanted three miles and he’s proved us right.

“He’s still learning, the penny is only starting to drop with him now, so hopefully he can keep improving.

“He’s an out-and-out stayer and you won’t see the best of him until he goes chasing. He’s a fine, big, strong horse and he’ll be a nice one to look forward to next season.”

Teahupoo outbattles Impaire Et Passe in Hatton’s Grace

Teahupoo proved too game for hot favourite Impaire Et Passe as he completed back-to-back wins in the Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

Gordon Elliott’s charge ended the long unbeaten run of Honeysuckle in the Grade One contest last year and this time it was Willie Mullins’ Impaire Et Passe who had his bubble burst.

Sent off the 4-5 favourite, Impaire Et Passe was looking to pick up where he left off last term with top-level successes at both the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals and he appeared to be travelling supremely well as they turned for home.

Pacemaker Zanahiyr dropped out in the straight, leaving Paul Townend to go for home on the market leader – but Teahupoo had other ideas.

Teahupoo (right) was too good for Impaire Et Passe
Teahupoo (right) was too good for Impaire Et Passe (Brian Lawless/PA)

The pair were neck and neck on the approach to the final flight but it was Teahupoo who kept finding for pressure on the run to the line, with Jack Kennedy’s mount registering a length success at odds of 85-40.

Teahupoo finished a close third in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last term and Betfair go 4-1 from 6s about him for that race, while Impaire Et Passe is out to 8-1 from 11-2 for the Champion Hurdle following the first defeat of his career.

A Cheltenham return in March is now top of Elliott’s agenda, with the trainer planning a direct route for Teahupoo this time.

Gordon Elliott greets Teahupoo and Jack Kennedy
Gordon Elliott greets Teahupoo and Jack Kennedy (Brian Lawless/PA)

He said: “We knew he was in good nick but obviously Willie’s horse was going to be hard to beat over two and a half miles and we know our lad wants three.

“Jack gave him a wonderful ride and was very clever on him, squeezed him along and said he was going to have one go at him between the last two.

“The horse has got a lot stronger. He’s only a young horse and didn’t do much wrong last year.

“We are going to do things a bit different this year and the plan is to go straight for the Stayers’ Hurdle now.

“We might have knocked the edge off him in Gowran last year.”

Owner Brian Acheson, in whose Robcour colours Teahupoo runs, added: “The key to this horse, like Bob Olinger, is Robbie Power. He takes a lot of the horses during the summer and does a bit of dressage.

“Everything is for the welfare of the horses to get them physically in good condition and mechanically working well.

“Bob Olinger is not going for the Stayers’ as he doesn’t stay three miles, but he might go to Aintree and take on Constitution Hill.”

Kennedy is now the most successful rider in the history of the race, having also won back-to-back renewals with Apple’s Jade in 2017 and 2018.

Teahupoo (right) is on course for Cheltenham  now
Teahupoo (right) is on course for Cheltenham now (Brian Lawless/PA)

He said: “I think he’s after improving from last year, he seems a stronger horse. That was very good there and I’m delighted with him.

“He’s a pleasure to ride. Paul (Townend’s) lad looked to be on it a bit and I was kind of pushing him along a bit trying to make him do as much as he could.

“This lad was very good, he was tough and did it well in the end.

“I enjoy riding this lad. Obviously, he gave me a great day here last year as well, so it’s brilliant for him to back it up again this year.

“Hopefully, it’s onwards and upwards.”

I Am Maximus makes stamina count in Drinmore win

I Am Maximus made a victorious return to Fairyhouse to secure Grade One glory in the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase.

The seven-year-old won the Irish Grand National at the track back in April, defying his novice status to claim a length success in the Easter highlight for trainer Willie Mullins.

Having his first start since then – and his last in novice company – I Am Maximus travelled well into the race for Jody McGarvey, having been happy to let 5-4 favourite Letsbeclearaboutit cut out much of the early running.

Found A Fifty was also to the fore and it looked between the three of them coming down to the final two obstacles, with Letsbeclearaboutit the first to crack.

A slow jump at the last hardly helped Found A Fifty’s cause and, dropping back to two and a half miles – nine furlongs less than the Irish National distance – I Am Maximus (11-1) had more than enough stamina to assert again on the run-in and win by two and a half lengths.

Coral make I Am Maximus the 16-1 joint favourite for next year’s Randox Grand National, while Betfair go 12-1 about his chance in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over the Christmas period.

Mullins said: “That’s a nice bonus on his last day as a novice.

“He’s a total character, as you could see from his early days racing. Paul (Townend) gave him a great ride in the Irish National and Jody gets on well with him and gave him a super ride there.

Jody McGarvey and I Am Maximus in the winner's enclosure
Jody McGarvey and I Am Maximus in the winner’s enclosure (Brian Lawless/PA)

“He looks a class horse now rather than a handicapper, so maybe we’ll have to make different plans for him now.

“We were hoping he’d have a chance over the trip and the fact that it was his last day as a novice to give him the opportunity. He’s clearly improved from last year and obviously shows a liking for Fairyhouse.

“He has a funny action when you look at him head on and I’d imagine softer ground is to his liking.

“I thought he was beaten turning for home and to produce what he did up the straight was very good.

“This year, we were maybe looking at going for the English National and whether we change and go for Grade One races now, I’m not sure. We’ll have to have a word with Frank (Berry, racing manager) and JP (McManus, owner) and see what they want to do.”

Mullins also fielded multiple Grade One-winning hurdler Sharjah, who had been victorious in two chase starts, but he could finish only fourth under Townend.

The trainer added: “I didn’t speak to Paul yet, but for me Sharjah clearly didn’t like the ground and you could see that from his head action.”

McGarvey was thrilled to claim top-level success after a testing campaign in the 2022-23 season.

Jody McGarvey (left) and Willie Mullins compare notes after their win
Jody McGarvey (left) and Willie Mullins compare notes after their win (Brian Lawless/PA)

He told RTE: “It’s nice to have rides on these good horses on the big days, let alone a horse with a chance. When they put it in and they actually win, it’s a great feeling.

“I knew he’d stay well. He has his own idea about things and his jumping can be a bit tricky at times, but on the whole, he jumped well today.

“Last year, I spent most of the year on the sidelines with a few niggly injuries and a couple of surgeries. Thankfully, I got everything straightened out.

“When you come back after being away for such a long time, it’s hard to get yourself going.

“Thankfully, riding for the people that I am, in Mr McManus and Frank Berry, has been huge. They are giving me the chances to get on these horses and I’ll be forever grateful to them.”

Farren finishes strongly to grab Royal Bond Glory

Farren Glory led home a one-two for Gordon Elliott in the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

Elliott fielded three in the Grade One contest, with Jack Kennedy opting to ride 11-2 shot Farren Glory as An Tobar was sent off the 5-2 favourite for Henry de Bromhead.

Rachael Blackmore had the market leader to the fore throughout, disputing the lead with Horantzau D’airy before his early exertions told and he dropped away, leaving An Tobar in the driving seat.

However, King Of Kingsfield was travelling notably well for Elliott and jockey Jordan Gainford and he seized the initiative heading down to the final flight, with Farren Glory jumping the last a bit awkwardly in second.

Despite a slight check on his momentum, Farren Glory found plenty for Kennedy on the run to line, eventually pipping his stablemate by a length and a half, with a further length and a quarter back to An Tobar in third.

Paddy Power make the winner a 16-1 shot for both the Supreme and Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle contests at the Cheltenham Festival.

Farren Glory and connections in the winner's enclosure
Farren Glory and connections in the winner’s enclosure (Brian Lawless/PA)

Elliott, who also saddled fifth-placed What’s Up Darling, said: “In fairness to Jack, he picked this lad – he had the choice of all three and I wasn’t sure he was on the right one.

“He’s riding out of his skin. There is only one winning line and he gave him a great ride.

“We knew he stayed well and won over a longer trip the last day.

“This is back where it all started for me. I trained my first Cheltenham Festival winner (Chicago Grey in 2011) for John Earls, a brother of Michael and uncle of Niall, who owns this lad.

“They put a lot into racing with their company Easifix. They have been looking for a good one for a while and we found this one, thankfully.”

Elliott could now look at Grade One dates in Britain over the Christmas period, with Leopardstown’s festive feature not expected to suit quite as well.

“He’s going to have to improve again, as I’d say it wasn’t the strongest Grade One ever, but it is never easy to win them,” the trainer said.

“He did everything wrong in Clonmel. We didn’t want to make the running and we had to, so we were hopeful with a bit of pace today and he sat in behind the leader.

“I’m not sure where he will go next. Leopardstown might not be the track for him on quick ground and I wouldn’t be shocked if we brought him to England for the Tolworth (now the Formby Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree) or the Challow.”

Of the runner-up, Elliott added: “King Of Kingsfield ran a big race. He’s still a maiden and Jordan was kicking himself saying he was in front too soon. He could win a big one and will be short in a maiden hurdle the next day!”