Real Appeal bags Ballycorus honours for Harrington

Real Appeal quickened up smartly to deny Lord Of The Lodge an all-the-way win in the Ballycorus Stakes at Leopardstown.

Karl Burke’s Lord Of The Lodge looked set to make the journey from North Yorkshire worthwhile when he grabbed an early lead under Gavin Ryan and led his rivals a merry dance.

Ryan looked to have judged it perfectly as he kicked clear with over a furlong to run, but Shane Foley knew what he had underneath him.

Jessica Harrington’s Real Appeal, a close third in a valuable handicap at Cork last time out, came with a sweeping run down the outside to collar Lord Of The Lodge close home.

The disappointment of the race was Kevin Prendergast’s Monaasib, who was third behind Poetic Flare in a Guineas Trial earlier in the season but never threatened to get involved.

Real Appeal won by half a length at 6-1, with two and a quarter lengths back to Pearls Galore in third.

Harrington said: “He really loves Leopardstown. I’d say his handicapping days are probably over now.

“He likes good ground, Leopardstown, and we’ll see where we go now with him.

“He has stepped forward very well this year, he’s a different horse, and I’m delighted with him.

“Seven (furlongs) is what he needs, I’m not sure he gets much further. Even still he got there a bit soon and was pulling himself up a little bit in front.

“This was the plan and I’ll have to go and look at the programme book now. He’ll come back here on Champions Weekend for the seven-furlong race, that will be his aim at the end of the year.”

Harrington sights set on Guineas victory for Vega

Jessica Harrington expects Lucky Vega to put up a bold bid for Classic glory in Saturday’s Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Already a Group One winner at the Curragh, having claimed an impressive victory in the Phoenix Stakes last summer, the three-year-old made a promising start to the new campaign when a close-up third in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket three weeks ago.

He is set to renew rivalry with Jim Bolger’s Rowley Mile hero Poetic Flare, but as he could only finish sixth in last weekend’s French 2000 Guineas, Lucky Vega is the clear favourite to turn the tables on home soil.

All of those who ran on fast ground at Newmarket can expect to encounter very different conditions this weekend, with the ground so testing that course officials held an inspection on Saturday morning before giving the card the go-ahead.

“He’s been great – I’m very happy with him,” Harrington said of Lucky Vega.

“This is a severe switch round on ground. I was a little bit worried going to Newmarket on good to firm ground, even though he’d won on it as a two-year-old – and now we’re going to be on soft ground at the Curragh.

“He saw out the mile very well at Newmarket, and has a really relaxed way of going. He has won on easy ground before (Phoenix Stakes, good to yielding), so I’m hoping all will be fine. It’s going to be the same for everyone.

“It’s the beginning of the year, so it’s who is improving really – he’s a very relaxed horse at home.”

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Aidan O’Brien, who has already won the Irish 2,000 Guineas on a record 11 occasions, this year fires a dual assault.

Van Gogh fared best of the duo when eighth in the Newmarket equivalent, with Wembley ultimately disappointing in finishing 11th.

O’Brien said of Van Gogh: “He was very close to being fifth in the Guineas, he just got tired in the last 50 yards. Maybe our Newmarket horses were a couple of weeks behind where we thought they were.

“He came out of the race very well. He is a big, strong traveller. He had very good form at the back-end of last year and we have been very happy with him since as well.

“He has form on soft ground in France, but I don’t think he needs it, we always thought he’d be better on nice ground.”

Wembley (left) chased home St Mark's Basilica on soft in the Dewhurst
Wembley (left) chased home St Mark’s Basilica on soft in the Dewhurst (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“It’s a shame about the weather, but that’s the way it is.

“Wembley has form on soft ground in the Dewhurst, but we always thought he wanted nice ground. At least he has some form on soft, though.”

Battleground was a late non-runner for O’Brien.

British hopes are carried by Charlie Appleby’s La Barrosa and the Hugo Palmer-trained The Rosstafarian.

La Barrosa was last seen pushing stablemate and subsequent 2000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas close in the Craven Stakes Stakes.

La Barrosa pushed Master Of The Seas close in the Craven
La Barrosa pushed Master Of The Seas close in the Craven (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“La Barrosa disappointed on testing ground at Saint-Cloud (last year), but we feel there were other contributing factors. It was the end of the season and he scoped dirty post-race, so I think you can put a bit of a line through that run,” Appleby told

“His preparation has gone well and he put up a very good performance behind Master Of The Seas on his three-year-old return.

“A repeat of that effort should make him very competitive.”

The Rosstafarian, who is owned by Middleham Park Racing, was fifth in the Craven.

Middleham Park’s Tom Palin said: “The horse did a fantastic pace of work this week – Hugo couldn’t have been happier.

“It’s amazing how in the last three weeks since we decided not to go for the English Guineas he has really matured and grown up.

“Michael Hills rides him in all his pieces of work and he had a real job pulling him up the other day. We couldn’t be happier with how he is at home. The penny has dropped since the Craven. He’s a much more street-wise horse than what we had.

“It’s going to be quite a test on stamina, but he’s a horse we think we’ll be looking at running over nine or 10 furlongs. I don’t think he’ll be beaten for stamina in the soft ground.”

Pretty Polly return possible for Alpine Star

The Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh has been identified as a potential comeback target for top-class filly Alpine Star.

Jessica Harrington’s charge was a brilliant winner of last season’s Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot under Frankie Dettori, before going on to fill the runner-up spot in three other Group One contests in France.

The daughter of Sea The Moon was narrowly beaten by Fancy Blue in the French Oaks, pushed Palace Pier all the way in the Prix Jacques le Marois and found only subsequent Breeders’ Cup heroine Tarnawa too strong in the Prix de l’Opera at ParisLongchamp in October.

Alpine Star holds a whole host of big-race entries, and connections are understandably looking forward to her reappearance.

Alpine Star and Frankie Dettori return to the Ascot winner's enclosure
Alpine Star and Frankie Dettori return to the Ascot winner’s enclosure (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Alan Cooper, racing manager for owners the Niarchos family, said: “Alpine Star is coming along and could possibly start off in the Pretty Polly at the Curragh (June 27).

“She definitely has a top line of form. I think we’re more than likely looking towards the second half of the season with her.

“I’ll be catching up with Mrs Harrington in the next few days, but that is what we were thinking last week.”

Another exciting filly for the owners is the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Sunrise Valley, who carries the Flaxman Stables colours.

A daughter of the Niarchos Family’s Japanese-bred ace Karakontie, the three-year-old was second on her debut at Yarmouth and then dominated her rivals to get off the mark at Newmarket last week.

“That was very encouraging from her,” added Cooper.

“I need to catch up with Sir Michael and see what he’s thinking as to what level we go to next.

“She’s from an old family that has served us well every generation.

“We’ll feel our way and take it from there.”

Harrington faces two-week ban and fine for breaking Covid protocols at Aintree

Trainer Jessica Harrington has been prohibited from attending a racecourse for two weeks and has been fined 3,500 euros after contravening coronavirus restrictions during Aintree’s Grand National meeting.

An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board hearing concluded that Harrington “acted in a manner which was prejudicial to the proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing”, and ruled she must not attend a racecourse for two weeks from May 24.

Harrington travelled to Aintree last month without staying in the ‘Irish bubble’, set up for the duration of the three-day meeting in line with Covid-19 protocols. She ran both Magic Of Light and Jett in the Grand National itself.

The veteran trainer told the hearing she was aware of what was required in terms of accommodation within the ‘Irish bubble’ in place for those travelling to Aintree but that her intention was to travel to Aintree from her home on the morning of the race and return to Ireland that evening, therefore not be required to enter the ‘Irish bubble’.

She added that in the days before the fixture she decided that making the journey to Aintree in one day would be too exhausting and changed her plans to travel on the Friday instead and use the opportunity to carry out some independent business with owners by viewing a horse they had requested her to look at – and she accepted an offer to stay at their accommodation.

Harrington added that she felt at the time she was not breaking the rules, because she never entered the Irish bubble on the race day – but now accepts she was in breach of the protocols.

In determining the appropriate sanction, hearing chairman Mr Justice Raymond Groarke noted that “a breach of these protocols could have enormous consequences for racing in Ireland and that Mrs. Harrington accepts that she has been in breach of the rules”.

Harrington double-handed in hunt for Blue Wind prize

Jessica Harrington fires a twin assault in her bid for back-to-back victories in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Blue Wind Stakes at Naas.

The Moone-based trainer saddled One Voice to land a rescheduled running of the Group Three contest at Leopardstown last season and is this year represented by Silence Please and Sacred Rhyme.

Silence Please sets the standard, having touched off aforementioned stablemate One Voice in the Listed Salsabil Stakes at Navan last summer, before going on to run with credit at Pattern level.

With just three runs under her belt, Sacred Rhyme is far less exposed and there was plenty to like about her comeback third in this season’s Salsabil Stakes a fortnight ago.

Harrington said: “I’m looking forward to the Blue Wind Stakes. Shane Foley rides Silence Please with Tom Madden on Sacred Rhyme and I’m hoping for a big run from both of them.

“Silence Please had a good year last year, finishing off with a second-placed finish in a mile-and-a-half Group Three at Leopardstown, having been fourth in the German Oaks.

“This is her first run of the season and we are looking forward to another good year, but you have to get started.

“I also have Sacred Rhyme in there. She ran very, very well in the Salsabil at Navan, when she finished third. She’s a lovely filly with some big entries and you’d be hoping she improves for that outing.”

Aidan O’Brien is also double-handed in Saturday’s feature, with High Heels and Willow declared.

Insinuendo (Willie McCreery), Thunder Kiss (Ger Lyons), Dearg Jazz (James Barrett) and Emaniya (Dermot Weld) are the other hopefuls.

No Speak Alexander stakes Classic claims at the Curragh

Jessica Harrington’s No Speak Alexander made a successful seasonal reappearance in the Group Three Coolmore Stud Circus Maximus Irish EBF Athasi Stakes at the Curragh.

The filly was a winner as a two-year-old and ran competitively in a handful of black-type contests before ending her season with fourth place in the Group Three Weld Park Stakes.

Returning to the same track for her first run of the new campaign, the three-year-old was this time a one-and-a-half-length winner when beating stablemate Zaffy’s Pride at 4-1.

Jockey Shane Foley believes the Shalaa filly could now be a contender for the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas back at the Curragh on May 23.

He said: “She was good, she’s been working like that and I was keen to ride her over the other.

“She’s a filly that I thought might have run well in the French Guineas, but we didn’t have her in it.

“She’s probably entitled to come back for the Irish Guineas now after that. She likes that bit of juice in the ground.”

Champers Elysees, winner of last year’s Matron Stakes, was sent off the 2-1 favourite but could finish only fourth under her Group One penalty.

Echoes In Rain impresses with Fairyhouse victory

Echoes In Rain scooted to a wide-margin victory in the Paddy Kehoe Suspended Ceilings Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The Willie Mullins-trained mare was bidding for her second successive victory at Grade Two level following a comprehensive display at Naas last month and could hardly have been more impressive in the hands of Paul Townend.

Anchored at the rear of the field for much of the two-mile journey, the keen-going five-year-old made ground to move onto the heels of the leaders before the home turn.

While her rivals were hard at work, Echoes In Rain was still full of running early in the straight under a motionless Townend – and once given her head, she readily pulled 15 lengths clear.

Mullins, winning the race for a seventh time from the last eight runnings, also saddled the runner-up M C Muldoon.

He said: “She’s got plenty of talent, but she just needs to settle. She’s settling and learning all the time.

“We didn’t want to bring her to Cheltenham for the Mares’ Hurdle because I thought she might boil over.

“In better races you can settle her in behind a bit more.

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“She’s improving all the time, so we’ll go on to Punchestown now.”

Ashdale Bob jumps the final flight in front at Fairyhouse
Ashdale Bob jumps the final flight in front at Fairyhouse (Niall Carson/PA)

There was a far tighter finish to the other Grade Two on the card – the Colm Quinn BMW Novice Hurdle.

With 4-5 favourite Gentlemansgame a little disappointing in third, it was left to Jessica Harrington’s 10-1 shot Ashdale Bob and 12-1 chance Decimation to fight out a thrilling finish.

No quarter was given by either horse or jockey, but it was Ashdale Bob who edged a neck ahead at the line under Robbie Power.

Townend taken to hospital for a precautionary X-ray on his foot after fall from Egality Mans.

Kate Harrington, assistant to her mother, said: “We’re delighted with that. Robert said it was pure class that got him through it.

“He’s grown a lot since Christmas and is only starting to fill his frame. He’s going to be a lovely horse for next season.

“We’ll have a chat to mum and the owners, but I imagine we’ll probably leave him at that for this season – he could be a very exciting horse going over a fence next year.”

Harrington and Power doubled up with Jungle Junction in the following BoyleSports Novice Handicap Chase, while El Barra (5-4 favourite) had earlier won the Ryan’s Cleaning, Waste And Recycling Maiden Hurdle for the Mullins-Townend combination.

El Barra delighted favourite backers in the opening race
El Barra delighted favourite backers in the opening race (Niall Carson/PA)

The champion trainer’s assistant, David Casey, said: “The ground was nice for him and he was able to dictate in front

“He ran a bit keen in Leopardstown and disappointed, and probably the same a little bit in Naas.

“We dropped him back to two miles in Navan and he ran well. He’s putting it together.

“I’d imagine he’ll be over fences next season.”

Wild Shot finished fourth in the race, but was banned from running for 60 days and his rider Dylan Browne suspended for 21 days after the stewards ruled he had not gained the best possible placing at a subsequent inquiry.

Dark Raven was an impressive winner
Dark Raven was an impressive winner (Niall Carson/PA)

Following the success of Janidil in the Underwriting Exchange Gold Cup Novice Chase, Dark Raven made it four on the day for the Mullins team with victory in the closing Tattersalls Ireland George Mernagh Memorial Sales Bumper.

Sent off the 4-7 favourite, he hacked up by 11 lengths in the hands of Patrick Mullins.

Aintree assignment top of Magic Of Light agenda

A second shot at the Randox Grand National remains the ultimate aim for 2019 runner-up Magic Of Light.

The 10-year-old was last seen finishing eight lengths behind Dan Skelton’s Roksana in the Grade Two Warfield Mares’ Hurdle at Ascot on January 23.

Jessica Harrington’s runner had won the two previous renewals of the race, but found Skelton’s highly-regarded mare too good and was passed after the last hurdle having led throughout.

Harrington reports Magic Of Light to be in good form following the run, saying: “She’s very well, we were pleased with her.”

The Kildare-based trainer then pointed out the gap in ratings between her mare and the winner, with Magic Of Light ranked 4lb lower than Roksana but meeting off level weights.

“On ratings she had no right to beat that filly and she ran a very good race on ground that was probably a bit tacky for her,” she said.

“It probably was a stronger renewal, and the ground was very tacky.”

Though there are no appearances pencilled in for the meantime, Harrington is clear on the ultimate aim for the mare this season.

“We’ve no idea where we’ll go next, none at all,” she said.

“But the Grand National is the aim, so we’ll just work our way towards that.”

Magic Of Light finished two and three-quarter lengths behind Tiger Roll in the 2019 Aintree marathon, almost causing a notable upset when starting at a massive price of 66-1.

The mare’s performance over the extreme trip and unique fences of the Grand National were testament to her versatility, whilst her consistency is highlighted by the fact that she has won or been placed in 12 of her 17 chase outings.

“She’s lovely, she’s very consistent,” Harrington said.

“She is as she is, and she’s in great form this year.”

Ashdale Bob handed Leopardstown target

Ashdale Bob has been given the go ahead to run in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors 50k Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff’ Novice Hurdle on the opening day of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.

Jessica Harrington’s six-year-old won his first two outings over timber impressively, including a Grade Two at Navan.

He was then fancied for the Grade One Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle, but he was an early faller in the contest won by Bob Olinger.

“Ashdale Bob will go for the two miles and six furlongs race at Leopardstown next weekend. He’s a stayer,” said Harrington.

“He’s flying and had no race the last day. He’s absolutely perfect after the fall.

“It was just unfortunate as he came up a stride and a half too far away from the hurdle. He was fine after it.”

Roksana out to uphold Long Walk form back at Ascot

Dan Skelton is hoping Roksana can repeat her excellent Long Walk performance on her return to Ascot for the Matchbook Betting Podcast Mares’ Hurdle.

The nine-year-old was beaten only two lengths when third to Paisley Park in the Grade One over an extended three miles in December and runs against own her sex again on Saturday.

However, it will be no walkover – because the opposition includes Magic Of Light, winner of this race for the last two years.

“I’m delighted with her – it was a great run in the Long Walk over the course and distance,” said Skelton.

“Obviously Magic Of Light is the one to beat, but I’m also respectful of the others in there.

“I think it’s a strong mares’ race, but I’m very happy with ours.”

Magic Of Light, trained in Ireland by Jessica Harrington and runner-up to Tiger Roll in the 2019 Grand National, has already made a successful visit to Britain this season to win a Listed mares’ chase at Newbury for the third year running.

“She is going for a hat-trick in the race and is in great form,” said Kate Harrington, assistant to her mother.

“She is entered in the Gold Cup and the Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and mum is thinking of running her in the Gold Cup.”

Magic Of Light is bidding to win Ascot's Grade Two hurdle for a third time
Magic Of Light is bidding to win Ascot’s Grade Two hurdle for a third time (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Paul Nicholls believes Eglantine Du Seuil can give a good account of herself, with the help of a 6lb concession from the big two.

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“She ran a cracker on her latest start for us six weeks ago in a competitive mares’ handicap hurdle at Cheltenham, where she came from off the pace to be second to The White Mouse,” Nicholls told Betfair.

“This is a new trip for her – and although I can’t be sure she stays three miles, she was keeping on well at the finish at Cheltenham.

“I’m hopeful Eglantine Du Seuil can run tidily, getting 6lb from two smart mares Magic Of Light and Roksana.”

Jeremy Scott is on a discovery mission with Dashel Drasher, who lines up for the bet365 Handicap Chase.

The Somerset trainer wants to find out if his lightly-raced eight-year-old can mix it with seasoned campaigners off his current mark in a competitive race such as this.

What Dashel Drasher has in his favour is a course-and-distance success on his latest start, albeit a three-horse affair.

“He’s come out of his last race really well. It’s very much to find out whether he’s at that level,” said Scott.

“We’ve only ever raced in those novice chases and a graduation chase, so how solid his handicap mark is we don’t know.

“It’s very much in a decent-sized field. I hope he runs well. I was pleased with the way he raced last time, but this will be a different proposition.”

Rose Dobbin has had this race in mind for Jonniesofa for some time – but did not expect it to be as competitive as it has turned out.

However, she reports the 11-year-old to be in good shape following his victory at Carlisle last month.

“He’s doing really well. He’s in great order. I’m very happy with him,” said the Northumberland trainer.

“We picked out this race a while ago, thinking conditions would suit him. Unfortunately, it seems to be quite a competitive renewal, but we’ll go and take our chance and see how he gets on.”

Skelton reports Bennys King to be in prime condition as he attempts to go one better than 12 months ago.

“He won there last time, (and) two-miles-five is a great trip for him,” said the Alcester trainer.

“He looks fantastic – this is the perfect race for him.

“He’s gone up in the handicap, which is making life harder, but I couldn’t be any happier with him.”

Nicholls was delighted to see Capeland return to winning ways at Wincanton, although it means he must race off a career-high mark.

Capeland is up to a career-high mark on Saturday
Capeland is up to a career-high mark on Saturday (PA)

“I was thrilled to see him bounce back to form with a stylish success a fortnight ago off a mark of 149 at Wincanton, back up in trip to two and a half miles,” he said.

“Capeland is now up to a career-high mark of 153 at a track which we know he likes, but he is another who wouldn’t want any more rain at Ascot.”

Tom Lacey is looking forward to having Kateson back on the track in the Matchbook Better Way To Bet Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle, for the first time in seven weeks.

The Herefordshire trainer believes the eight-year-old runs well when fresh, so has given him a break since he was successful at Aintree.

“He seems in good order. I think the trip on that ground will be right up his street, fingers crossed,” said Lacey.

Tom Lacey has given Kateson a break since his Aintree victory
Tom Lacey has given Kateson a break since his Aintree victory (PA)

“He’s a horse that runs best fresh. We’ve just been waiting to find the races for him.

Nicholls is confident of a strong performance from Danny Kirwan.

The Ditcheat handler said: “He has had one or two issues that have interrupted his career but is now in as good a place as we’ve had him for a long time, and it was great to see him show what he can do with a fluent victory over this trip at Ascot two months ago.

“Next time at Cheltenham he didn’t stay three miles. Danny has been working with Politologue and will be much happier back at this trip on testing ground that he relishes. I am expecting a big run from him in a competitive race.”

De Bromhead cues up Bob Olinger to state case in Lawlor’s

Henry de Bromhead plans to let Bob Olinger “do the talking” in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle.

Impressive in winning a point-to-point and a Gowran Park bumper last season, Bob Olinger made a promising start to his hurdling career when pushing last season’s Champion Bumper winner Ferny Hollow all the way in November.

The Sholokhov gelding duly went one better at prohibitive odds when stepped up two and a half miles at Navan last month, and will bid to follow up at the top level in Wednesday’s rescheduled Grade One.

“We’ll let him do the talking and see. He works really well, and we like him a lot, so fingers crossed he’ll do it on the track,” de Bromhead told Sky Sports Racing last week.

“We’ll get (this race) out of the way and we’ll know more then. He won his point-to-point and looked good at Navan the other day.

“He’s got a lot of pace as well, though. We’ll probably enter him for the three novice hurdles at Cheltenham and see nearer the time, but in my mind it will be either the Supreme or the Ballymore, as opposed to the Albert Bartlett.”

Willie Mullins relies on Blue Lord in a bid to add to his record haul of eight victories in the Grade One contest.

The French import looked a high-class recruit when winning on his Irish debut at Punchestown, and connections are optimistic that he can prove his worth in Grade One company.

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Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “We were very impressed with Blue Lord in Punchestown. We think there’s a lot of improvement to come from him.

“He’s a horse who will jump a fence in time, but we think he is up to Grade One level, and this will tell us more.

“He came to us very well-schooled and he has always jumped well at ours.

“It’s a big step up, but that’s the way the programme is in Ireland. You’re only taking on horses with one or two more runs, so that’s not a major worry.”

Ashdale Bob and Crosshill give Jessica Harrington a strong hand.

Having claimed Grade Two honours in the Navan Novice Hurdle just over three weeks ago, Ashdale Bob arguably sets the standard here – while stablemate Crosshill won by 11 lengths on his hurdling bow before at Punchestown before chasing home Power Of Pause at the same venue.

“Ashdale Bob won the last day in Navan, and we’ve been very happy with him,” said Harrington’s daughter and assistant, Kate.

“Crosshill was very impressive over two and a half miles when winning his maiden hurdle, and that form has worked out well. We dropped back to two miles the last day, and I think we got the tactics wrong on that occasion.

“The step back up in trip will definitely suit.”

Gordon Elliott, who has landed three of the last four renewals with Death Duty (2017), Battleoverdoyen (2019) and Envoi Allen (2020), saddles two outsiders in Wide Receiver and Ragnar Lodbrok.

He told Betfair: “Wide Receiver is rated 130, but I think he is better than his rating suggests – and his form so far this season is good.

“His second to Ashdale Bob in a Navan maiden hurdle looks like a very good run in hindsight, and I was delighted with his effort at Leopardstown over Christmas when he won a maiden hurdle in good style – I could see him running a big race.

Gordon Elliott provides two of the contenders in Wednesday's Grade One at Naas
Gordon Elliott provides two of the contenders in Wednesday’s Grade One at Naas (PA)

“In truth Ragnar Lodbrok faces a stiff enough task here. But he’s in good form, and I think if he can put together a reasonable round of jumping, he could give a good account of himself.”

Gavin Cromwell’s Gabynako and the Noel Meade-trained Flanking Maneuver, who won a Fairyhouse maiden hurdle less than a fortnight ago, are the other hopefuls.

Meade said: “It’s a Grade One race and a big jump up from a maiden, but we like the horse and said we’d have a rattle at it.

“Putting the race back three days is a help, and he took his maiden race win really well.

“He actually never lost a pound from one day to the next, and that was part of the reason that we decided to run. He lost no weight at all.”

Ashdale Bob takes Navan feature as leading fancies disappoint

Ashdale Bob claimed a surprise victory in the BetVictor Make Your Best Bet Novice Hurdle at Navan.

A field of seven runners went to post for a Grade Two contest better known as the Navan Novice Hurdle, with much of the pre-race attention focussing on the previously unbeaten 7-4 favourite Holymacapony, and the brilliant Envoi Allen’s half-brother, Fighter Allen.

The latter cut out much of the running under Paul Townend, with Holymacapony close up for much of the way, before dropping out quickly before the home turn.

With Fighter Allen’s challenge petering out early in the home straight, Gabynako was left in front jumping the third flight from the finish, before Jessica Harrington’s course-and-distance winner Ashdale Bob nipped up his inside and soon opened up a commanding advantage.

A slick leap at the final-flight sealed the 14-1 shot’s six-length win, providing jockey Paddy Kennedy with the biggest success of his riding career to date.

“He was very good. He switched off lovely today, which is important with him,” said Kennedy.

“He’s a nice horse, he improved a good bit from the last day and I think he’ll improve again on a bit of nicer ground.

“He’s a nice prospect going forward. I’d say chasing is his real game.”

Fakiera, partnered by the winning rider’s younger brother Jack Kennedy, was best of the rest in second.

Both Holymacapony and Fighter Allen were pulled up before the final obstacle.

Magic Of Light seeks Newbury hat-trick

Grand National runner-up Magic Of Light will bid for a third successive victory in the Pertemps Network Mares’ Chase at Newbury.

Jessica Harrington’s charge claimed Wednesday’s Listed prize and a Grade Two over hurdles at Ascot a couple of seasons ago, before going on to find only Tiger Roll too strong in the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree.

The nine-year-old completed the same Newbury-Ascot double last term, to set up another National bid, but the Aintree spectacular was ultimately cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Magic Of Light finished a well-beaten fourth on her return to action in a hurdle race at Punchestown last month, but will be a warm order to get back on the winning trail at Newbury under Robbie Power.

Harrington said: “She’s going for the hat-trick and has travelled over great. I just don’t want too much rain – that’s my only worry.

“The ground was heavy for her comeback run at Punchestown, and she was running over a distance much too short for her, but it was grand.

“The Grand National is the plan again, all being well.”

Magic Of Light faces just two rivals, in the Noel Williams-trained Sensulano and Carrolls Milan from Fergal O’Brien’s yard.

Sensulano was actually runner-up to Magic Of Light at Ascot in January, but has a mountain to climb on official ratings in their latest clash – with Carrolls Milan even more up against it.

Pottsie back on winning track at Fairyhouse

Sizing Pottsie made the most of a drop in class to win the Boylesports This Is Betting Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse.

Representing the Supasundae connections of Jessica Harrington and the Potts family, who retired their star hurdler this week, he had the race won turning into the straight.

Sizing Pottsie (7-2) jumped the last two fences in a slightly scruffy manner, but Paddy Kennedy kept him up to his work to beat Entoucas by six lengths.

“Two miles and heavy ground is what he wants,” said Harrington.

“Once he got to the front, he was very lairy and lazy. He went clear very quickly at the second last.

“The two-mile handicap in Leopardstown has a cap of 150 on it. He’s not in the Graded race at Leopardstown and neither is Impact Factor (who won at Fairyhouse last month).

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“One will wait for the Dan Moore here and one might go to England for a two-mile handicap. I’d say Impact Factor will come here.

“They both want soft ground and it’s nice to have them.”

Kennedy’s brother Jack was also on the scoresheet when partnering Gordon Elliott’s Torygraph (evens favourite) to victory in the Visit For The Perfect Racing Gift Maiden Hurdle.

The rider said: “He’s done it well and jumped great. I didn’t realise how far clear I was, but he’s a lazy sort of a horse. I was just trying to keep the momentum going on him.

“He loves that ground.”

Willie Mullins unleashed his latest exciting bumper prospect as Brandy Love (4-9 favourite) justified strong market support in the closing Irish Stallion Farms EBF 4-Y-O Fillies Flat Race to win by seven lengths.

She was sporting the colours of owner Michael Grech, who is back involved in racing having dissolved his partnership with Stuart Parkin.

Patrick Mullins was on board and said: “She’s very good and a proper mare. That’s what she was showing at home and we thought she would do that.

“Those Jet Away’s seem to be quite good. He’s siring plenty of winners and she will keep his name in lights.

“I’d imagine she will stay in bumpers and could go for the mares’ bumper (at the Dublin Racing Festival) in Leopardstown and could be a spring Festival mare as well.

“It’s Mike Grech’s first runner for us. Henrietta Knight is involved with him as well, so it’s great to get a winner for them.”

Brandy Love is 16-1 from 40s for the Champion Bumper with Betfair.

Front View (11-4) was produced late by Mark Walsh to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase.

Trainer Joseph O’Brien’s assistant Brendan Powell said: “He’s never been a natural jumper, even over a hurdle. The last couple of times JJ (Slevin) has had to get him around. His front end is good, but he doesn’t bend his back very well.

“I think the race fell apart. They went a fair gallop and he’s got there. He’s just not a natural jumper, but hopefully he’ll get better as time goes by.

“He was fancied for the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham last season, but he didn’t jump there over hurdles.”

‘Fantastic servant’ Supasundae heads for retirement

Robbie Power hailed Supasundae a “fantastic servant” after the triple Grade One winner was retired from racing.

Having claimed Cheltenham Festival glory in the 2017 Coral Cup, the son of Galileo went on to make his mark at the highest level for trainer Jessica Harrington, with victories in the Irish Champion Hurdle, the Punchestown Champion Hurdle and the Aintree Hurdle.

But with the 10-year-old looking a shadow of his former self in three starts so far this season – most recently finishing last of six runners in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse – Harrington has now called time on his racing career.

“He’s been a fantastic servant,” said Power, who guided Supasundae to five of his eight victories.

“He won three Grade Ones and a Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. He was also second in a Stayers’ Hurdle a couple of years ago.

“He was just a tough, honest horse who always gave his running. I think he ran in 10 Grade One races consecutively at one stage and was never out of the first three.

“He beat Faugheen in an Irish Champion Hurdle and beat Buveur D’Air in an Aintree Hurdle. Probably beating Faugheen in the Irish Champion Hurdle was his best performance, but I got a great buzz out him winning the Aintree Hurdle as well.”

Supasundae won British bumpers for Tim Fitzgerald and Andrew Balding, before being bought privately by the late Alan Potts ahead of finishing sixth in the 2015 Champion Bumper at Cheltenham for Henry de Bromhead.

He was moved to Harrington’s yard the following year and signs off having either won or been placed on 19 of his 31 career outings – earning almost £770,000 in the process.