Tag Archive for: Mark Walsh

Capodanno sparkles as Bob Olinger disappoints in Champion Novice Chase

Hot favourite Bob Olinger proved bitterly disappointing as Capodanno claimed top honours in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown.

Henry de Bromhead’s Bob Olinger looked a potential superstar in the making as a novice hurdler last season and while his jumping was not foot perfect, he won his first two starts over fences readily.

However, while he his doubled his Cheltenham Festival tally in the Turners’ Novices’ Chase last month, he would have been well beaten had Galopin Des Champs not come to grief at the final fence.

With no Galopin Des Champs to worry about and a tongue-tie fitted for the first time, Bob Olinger was a 6-5 chance in the hands of Rachael Blackmore, but was in trouble a long way from home and was pulled up before the home straight.

The Willie Mullins-trained Capodanno (11-4), who finished fourth in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, travelled strongly throughout and readily accounted for Lifetime Ambition by six and a half lengths under Mark Walsh.

“I just felt coming out of Cheltenham we didn’t do the right thing. Having a chat with Mark beforehand, he was thinking the same way as I was and he wanted to be positive, that suited me,” said Mullins.

“We always thought that he stayed, it was just about the right way to ride him. We’d been holding him up and we had made the running once or twice.

“In the bigger races we hadn’t been bold enough and today was the day just to be bold and see what happens.

“It worked out and hopefully we might have a Gold Cup horse on our hands. He gallops and jumps and usually the Gold Cup is on good ground, that’ll do us.”

Glan shines again with Fairyhouse victory

Gordon Elliott was delighted to see Glan claim the RYBO Handicap Hurdle, the highlight on the first day of Fairyhouse’s three-day Easter meeting.

Glan was having just her sixth outing over hurdles having won a maiden at this track back in October before finishing a well-beaten third at Grade Three level subsequently.

She had shown plenty of promise in two subsequent handicap starts and was sent off a 4-1 chance behind eventual unplaced 100-30 favourite Farout in this two-mile heat.

Glan looked up against it jumping the second-last as while she was travelling well, she was in behind horses and had ground to make up, but Mark Walsh managed to weave his way through on the run to the last.

Elliott’s runner edged in front after jumping the final flight and responded to Walsh’s drive to hold La Prima Donna by half a length, with Heia a further short head back in third.

“Mark gave her a lovely ride, it was great. That was probably her day, so we’ll enjoy today,” said Elliott.

“We’ve gotten beat in that race a couple of times over the years and we’ve been placed in it a good few times.

“She’s a nice mare so it was great to win it.”

Bugs Moran after his victory
Bugs Moran after his victory (Gary Carson/PA)

Noel Meade was full of praise for jockey Jack Kennedy after he guided Bugs Moran (10-1) to victory in the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle Series Final.

Kennedy was partnering the five-year-old for the first time and he delivered Bugs Moran with a perfectly-timed challenge at the last, passing Eric Bloodaxe on the run to the line to win by a length and three-quarters.

“It was great to get Jack. He’s a super rider and it was a pleasure to watch him going around,” said Meade.

Jack Kennedy and Bugs Moran stayed on to great effect
Jack Kennedy and Bugs Moran stayed on to great effect (Donall Farmer/PA)

“He jumped great for him, stayed well and he loves good ground. The trip was a big help to him and he’s learning on the job.

“I bred him myself, there’s not a whole lot of him – he’s very light and spindly. I actually sold another one to Tomas (Singleton), but he ran so badly the two times he ran I said to him I’d take him back and give him the pick of three. He picked him and I’m delighted for them that he’s won.

“He jumps well and he’ll jump fences too on fast ground. He’ll keep going for a while anyway.”

Jody Townend and Fox Watch clear the last
Jody Townend and Fox Watch clear the last (Donall Farmer/PA)

Jody Townend teamed up with Tony Mullins to lift the Fred Kenny Lifetime Services To Racing Ladies National Handicap Chase with Fox Watch (7-2).

Fox Watch was not totally fluent at the penultimate obstacle, but Townend soon had him back on track and he took advantage as favourite Rightplacerightime faltered in the shadow of the post, prevailing by a neck.

“That’s great, Jody has won the Ladies Derby for us and now the Ladies National,” said Mullins.

“She’s just an unreal rider. He missed the second last and the runner-up missed the last and that was the dividing of it.

“We’re looking at a three-mile-seven-furlong race on the last day of Punchestown. It’s a big ask to go over three miles three times in one month, but if he pulls out fresh that’s what we are thinking.

“He’s a super jumper and a very sound horse, maybe he’ll turn into a proper National horse someday.”

Vaucelet was a winner for Jamie Codd
Vaucelet was a winner for Jamie Codd (Donall Farmer/PA)

Vaucelet (10-11 favourite) won the Frank & Teresa O’Reilly Memorial Hunters Chase for Jamie Codd and trainer David Christie, while Whatsavailable (3-1 co-favourite) was a game winner of the Mongey Communications Maiden Hurdle for Mouse Morris.

Echoes Of Family (7-1) landed the BoyleSports Mares Handicap Chase with Jetara (11-2) making a victorious debut for Jessica Harrington in the closing Jetaway.ie Irish EBF Mares INH Flat Race.

Fakir D’Oudairies has McCoy smiling at Ascot

Sir Anthony McCoy admits he misses the big days, the good horses.

Still just a few seasons removed from the saddle, the 20-times champion used to don JP McManus’ famous green and gold hoop silks, now he represents the powerful owner as a spokesman on the big occasions like Betfair Ascot Chase day.

A man renowned for his dry wit, he was even caught cracking a smile when lifting the glass trophy that gallant Fakir D’Oudairies had landed in the Grade One feature on deep ground on Saturday.

“Don’t tell anyone!” quipped McCoy when told he’d smiled.

McCoy is becoming well versed in the art of saying something, but telling nothing. He smiles at that suggestion, too.

He had won this race “a few times – I can’t remember what on”.

“I do remember I won it on Tresor De Mai and he was one I didn’t think would ever win a Grade One,” added McCoy in more typical fashion.

Fakir D’Oudairies had him upbeat, however. The tempo of the two-mile-and five-furlong event was more than adequate for the conditions and Mark Walsh gave the Joseph O’Brien-trained seven-year-old a peach of a ride.

Though he got in close and had his momentum slightly slowed at the penultimate fence, he picked up and found a determination that saw him overhaul the game Two For Gold and gain a third top-level success.

Fakir D’Oudairies has had the misfortune to have come up against crack chaser Allaho and has been beaten by him in their last three clashes. They could lock horns again in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, although McCoy hinted that Aintree, where he won the Melling Chase last April, might be the plan.

“It was easier for him today. He is a good horse. He’ll go somewhere where he can win again,” said McCoy.

“It was nice for him to win. He is a good, tough horse. He is a credit and is a consistent horse and just keeps finding.

Tony McCoy (centre-left) is all smiles after lifting the Betfair Ascot Chase trophy
Tony McCoy (centre-left) is all smiles after lifting the Betfair Ascot Chase trophy (Simon Marper/PA)

“It looked a fairly run race and it is tiring ground and they are all entitled to make mistakes, aren’t they? He is a good, solid horse.

“You’d miss riding a horse like that, but I saw a few earlier in the day that I wouldn’t have missed riding!”

Fakir D’Oudairies is, like McCoy, a serious individual. An uncomplicated, ruthless grinder not known for an added gear, he is in equal parts dependable and persistent, a horse with a tattooed heart on his sleeve, giving his all.

“He is a consistent horse at a high level,” added McCoy. “It is hard when you run into good horses all the time like Allaho, and you are going to get beaten once in a while.”

Walsh took a page from the McCoy playbook. He was not going to be beaten, not today. The rider had suffered a family bereavement, and did well to just about keep his emotions in check after landing another Grade One.

Mark Walsh is interviewed after his Ascot success
Mark Walsh is interviewed after his Ascot success (Simon Marper/PA)

“Unfortunately I lost my uncle. He was a great racing fan and a great man, so I want to dedicate this race to him,” said Walsh.

“I thought I was going to win going to the second last, but he got underneath it and the horse in front got two lengths on him, but he put himself down very well and battled all the way to the line.

“The second horse didn’t stop and gave me a good battle all the way to the line, but luckily we came out on top.

“Joseph does a brilliant job with him at home, but he loves his racing and he is a little warrior and always battles like that. He is a great little horse to be associated with.”

The brilliance of these top-flight jockeys is an inane ability to pre-empt and change the plan mid-race. Walsh had to do exactly that.

Fakir D’Oudairies (right) edged out Two For Gold
Fakir D’Oudairies (right) edged out Two For Gold (Simon Marper/PA)

He explained: “I didn’t travel great coming up Swinley Bottom, the first two fences and coming up by the stands, I pulled him out to give him a bit of room and going down the hill, he started jumping a lot better and he got into position then.

“I was a lot happier going into Swinley Bottom the second time and just pulling him out and giving him a bit of room seemed to work.

“Once he starts putting in a few leaps like that, he starts enjoying it again.”

It was a big day in every respect for Walsh, a fact he acknowledged.

“Every winner is important – especially these Grade Ones – so I am delighted, “ he added.

This may have been a ho-hum race for McCoy among a glittering career but there is no question Fakir D’Oudairies is as good, if not better, than some of the winners of the race he had ridden.

“No question, he is tough and consistent,” said McCoy. “In fairness to him, his form figures are pretty good. He is more of a relentless galloper. He is a grand horse – you wouldn’t mind a few more like him. Or a lot like him!”

Fakir D’Oudairies edges victory in Ascot Chase

Fakir D’Oudairies became the latest Irish raider to claim big-race honours on British soil with a battling victory in the Betfair Ascot Chase.

The raiding party’s dominance of last year’s Cheltenham Festival is well documented at this stage, while earlier this season A Plus Tard lifted the Betfair Chase and Tornado Flyer plundered the King George.

There has not been an Irish-trained winner of this particular Grade One contest since Sound Man struck gold for Edward O’Grady in 1996, but Fakir D’Oudairies ended the 26-year wait under Mark Walsh.

Joseph O’Brien’s charge had already carried the colours of leading owner JP McManus to two top-level victories and kicked off the current campaign with a Grade Two success in the Clonmel Oil Chase.

He had proved no match for the brilliant Allaho on his two most recent outings at Punchestown and Thurles, but was the 9-4 favourite to bounce back to winning ways in Berkshire.

With King George third Saint Calvados pulling up and a bad mistake four fences from home knocking the stuffing out of last year’s winner Dashel Drasher, it was 25-1 shot Two For Gold who led the way turning for home.

It took Fakir D’Oudairies a while to wear him down, but he eventually got on top after the final obstacle and had a length and three-quarters in hand at the line.

O’Brien said: “They were tough conditions. Mark gave him a good ride. It was a pretty gruelling race and a long way up the straight, but delighted to win a Grade One.

“I thought turning in we had every chance but we were a bit slow at the second last – he got a bit tight into it – and then it was really a slog from there. But our horse is tough and he fought all the way to the line.

“He is very good at his best. He was a good juvenile hurdler, went chasing then and he has never really run a bad race, to be fair to the horse. He has been solid and consistent and he has come up a little bit short at times, but he always turns up and runs with his heart on his sleeve.

“Allaho is as good a two-and-a-half-miler as there probably is around at the moment and we have come up against him a few times, but when you have a Grade One horse, you meet the best around.

“It was nice today that we had a chance to run in a Grade One where we wouldn’t meet Allaho.”

Trainer Joseph O'Brien
Trainer Joseph O’Brien (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Coral cut Fakir D’Oudairies to 10-1 from 14-1 for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, a race in which he finished second to Allaho last season before going one better in the Melling Chase at Aintree.

“Cheltenham and Aintree are the two most logical places from here – we’ll see how he comes out of today’s race and the decision will be made about Cheltenham closer to the time,” O’Brien added.

“He had a pretty tough race today, so we will see how he comes home, but those are the logical races for him.

“We sent them over on Thursday, but that would have been when we travelled anyway. He travelled a bit earlier on Thursday than what he would have under normal circumstances because of the weather. It didn’t interrupt our preparation too much.”

Slip Of The Tongue stars in Punchestown treble for Walsh and McManus

Slip Of The Tongue played a starring role in a Punchestown treble for jockey Mark Walsh and owner JP McManus with a dramatic victory in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle.

A winner on his hurdling debut at Tipperary last spring, the five-year-old had since had to make do with minor honours at Gowran Park and Limerick respectively.

But having finished third behind two potential Champion Hurdle contenders in Teahupoo and Quilixios over Christmas, Padraig Roche’s inmate was a 5-2 joint-favourite to claim Listed honours in Kildare.

Deploy The Getaway looked the most likely winner when scooting into a clear advantage leaving the back straight, but Slip Of The Tongue reeled him in on the run to the final flight.

Just when it looked like he was getting on top, the Flemensfirth gelding blundered badly, with Walsh doing well to keep the partnership intact.

Slip Of The Tongue regathered his momentum to get back on top by three-quarters of a length – and while the stewards held an inquiry due to the interference suffered by the runner-up, the placings remained unaltered.

Roche said: “That was great, he’s a lovely horse and it’ll keep the father (former rider and trainer Christy Roche) happy as he’s a home-bred. He’s a horse that we’ve liked all the time and he’s learning all the time.

“At Limerick the last day we didn’t learn much. I’d say he stays well and loves that bit of soft ground. Knowing the family, they get better with time and hopefully he will. He’s a fine, big horse.

“I haven’t discussed plans yet but I’d say we’ll keep him at home.”

Midnight Maestro (right) and Shady Operator fight out the finish
Midnight Maestro (right) and Shady Operator fight out the finish (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Walsh-McManus treble was initiated by Midnight Maestro (9-2), who edged out stablemate Shady Operator in the Hollywoodbets Bet 10 Get 30 PP Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase.

Enda Bolger’s pair drew clear of the chasing pack from the home turn and it was Walsh’s mount who got the better of a thrilling duel by a neck.

“We’ll give them both an entry for the Cheltenham race now. Whether they’ll be good enough, we’ll see what else is going to turn up,” said Bolger.

“They just swapped it around from the last meeting here. Shady got a cut here the last day and was laid up for a while. He had a run at Navan but the other horse finished better that day.

“Maybe the little bit of fitness at the end probably caught Shady out. I thought for a minute he was coming back at him again.

“They were fine and professional about it and their jumping was good.”

Ciel De Neige clears the final fence
Ciel De Neige clears the final fence (Brian Lawless/PA)

Walsh and McManus doubled up with the Willie Mullins-trained Ciel De Niege (5-4 favourite), who comfortably made it three from three over fences in the Hollywoodbets Cheltenham Festival Preview March 3rd Rated Novice Chase.

Mullins said: “He did that nicely, coming back to two miles. It was just a pity about the two mistakes he made.

“I’m very happy he did that, he enjoys things more over fences.

“He’ll be entered in a couple of races (at Cheltenham) and maybe in a handicap as well. We’ll have a look at options after this and chat to connections to see where he fits in.”

James’s Gate impressed the closing contest
James’s Gate impressed the closing contest (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mullins made it a double on the day with James’s Gate (2-5 favourite) in the Hollywoodbets Money Back 2nd To SP Favourite (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.

The five-year-old was making his racecourse bow in the hands of the trainer’s son Patrick, but he made short work of his rivals to run out an eight-length winner and set up a possible date in the Champion Bumper at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

“He’s a tremendous addition to (owner) Sean and Bernardine Mulryan’s group of horses,” said Mullins.

“He was bought from Pat Doyle, on his recommendation, and I’m very pleased for him as well. He looks as good as Pat thinks he is.

“I’d imagine he’ll go for the Cheltenham bumper and we’ll look forward to coming back here as well for the Festival bumper.”

Grandero Bello was a Punchestown winner
Grandero Bello was a Punchestown winner (Brian Lawless/PA)

Young Dev (12-1) landed the David Trundley Artist At Punchestown Handicap Hurdle while Grandero Bello was a surprise 16-1 victor in the Hollywoodbets Now Streaming UK & Irish Racing Maiden Hurdle.

Saddle Her Up, who finished ninth at odds of 66-1 in the latter event, was the subject of a post-race inquiry, with the stewards finding she had not obtained the best possible placing.

The horse was banned from running for 42 days, with jockey Kieran Callaghan suspended for 10 days and trainer Barry Fitzgerald fined €2,000.

Darasso surprises Saint Felicien in Limestone Lad Hurdle

Darasso made the most of a drop in grade to lower the colours of the hot favourite Saint Felicien in the BetVictor Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas.

A Grade Two winner at Navan in November and fourth to Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse on his latest start, the Joseph O’Brien-trained nine-year-old gave weight to his five rivals in admirable fashion.

Felix Desjy set the pace until the penultimate flight where his Gordon Elliott stablemate Saint Felicien took over.

However, the 4-5 shot could not ward off the attentions of Darasso (8-1), who pulled away to score by three and a quarter lengths under Mark Walsh in the colours of JP McManus.

Darasso’s victory denied Saint Felicien’s jockey Robbie Power a triumphant return on his first ride since suffering multiple injuries in a fall at Tramore in October.

O’Brien’s assistant Brendan Powell said: “He’s been such a consistent horse over the years and that’s put him over £300,000 in prizemoney. He keeps turning up in all these top races and getting placed.

“Mark said the faster they went the better. He missed the second last a bit and he had to get him racing again, but he jumped the last well and went away.

“He’s just so consistent, whether it is hurdles or fences, and such a star to have in the yard. If you have a horse that tries like him, he’s going to keep doing it for you.

“He’s been to Cheltenham the last couple of years but whether he goes there again, I’ll leave that to Joseph.”

The same connections completed a double when Champion Green made all the running in the first division of the Naas Racecourse Maiden Hurdle.

The 4-6 favourite was in control from the outset and was never seriously threatened as he strolled home by three and a half lengths from Magic Word.

Champion Green was left unchanged at 14-1 for the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle with Paddy Power.

Powell said: “He’s been a bit keen and the last time the saddle went up his neck, so Mark has decided to let him pop along today and he’s jumped beautiful.

“Making the running has made him settle, he’s had a look at the hurdles and jumped them well.

“We’ll see what sort of mark he gets and whether he’ll be a Boodles horse or not.”

My Mate Mozzie continues progression in For Auction

My Mate Mozzie shortened in the market on the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle as he took his unbeaten record over the smaller obstacles to two with a convincing all-the-way win in the Grade Three For Auction Novice Hurdle at Navan.

Gavin Cromwell’s five-year-old made a big impression on his hurdling debut at Punchestown last month. and followed up in promising fashion.

My Mate Mozzie (4-5 favourite) was tracked by Serenity Grove and San Salvador in the early stages before the pace picked up from three out.

The Gordon Elliott-trained pair of Boothen Boy and Chemical Energy tried to mount challenges, but the former came down at the final flight, hampering his stable companion.

My Mate returns in triumph after the For Auction Novice Hurdle
My Mate returns in triumph after the For Auction Novice Hurdle (Gary Carson/PA)

That left My Mate Mozzie to score as he liked, by 10 lengths, in the hands of Mark Walsh. Chemical Energy hung on for second place with Ferdia a length away in third spot.

Walsh said: “The only negative I’d have about him is that he was jumping right most of the way.

“I think a right-handed track would suit him better, but he’s a lovely horse – very straightforward and he travels and jumps.

“I gave him a squeeze after the second-last and he felt like he sprinted away from them. He’s an exciting horse going forward.

“I gave him a squeeze after the second-last, but I hadn’t fully gone for him and I was very happy I was always going to win.”

My Mate Mozzie was trimmed to 16-1 from 20-1 for the Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival with Betfair and Paddy Power.

Fakir D’oudairies secures emphatic Marsh Chase success

Fakir D’oudairies finally landed the big pot his consistent efforts have deserved in recent seasons when bolting up in the Marsh Chase at Aintree.

Second in six Grade Ones throughout his career, including last time out in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, he was declared to run at Fairyhouse on Monday but pulled out on account of the quick ground.

Connections had been hoping for a softer surface on Merseyside – but the way he travelled and jumped on this occasion suggests there will be no worries in the future.

Master Tommytucker attempted to make all but, as is his wont, made several errors, including a spectacular one on the first circuit which saw Sam Twiston-Davies perform miracles to keep the partnership intact.

Heading to the third-last Politologue moved alongside his stablemate Master Tommytucker, with Nuts Well aiming to squeeze between the pair as Mark Walsh moved on the outside of all of them.

It got very tight with Nuts Well coming off worst, forcing Danny McMenamin to take a pull and by then his chance had gone.

Sent off the 2-1 favourite, Fakir D’oudairies shot clear to give Joseph O’Brien a notable win, with Nuts Well holding off Itchy Feet for second, 11 lengths away.

O’Brien said: “We’re delighted with his win. Mark gave him a great ride, he jumped great and got into a great rhythm today.

Fakir D’oudairies was an emphatic winner
Fakir D’oudairies was an emphatic winner (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’s been a very consistent performer for us and deserves another Grade One.

“He’s been running against the best of the best and always runs his race. We’re very proud of his win today.

“He was to run at Fairyhouse on Monday. He was at the track and we weren’t happy with the ground. It’s a touch of luck we sent him to Aintree instead.

“We’ll have a look at Punchestown. We’ll see how he comes home first – it’s a decision for next week.

“We’ll get today out of the way and go from there.”

Walsh said: “He deserved his day in the sun. He’s been running great all season, so I’m delighted he got his head in front.

“He had a hard race at Cheltenham in the Ryanair, but Joseph had him in great shape and he’s done it well today.”

Following the race, the stewards looked into the incident that saw the interference, and deemed Politologue’s jockey Harry Cobden guilty of improper riding. He was suspended for eight days.

Cobden is currently third in the race to be champion jockey behind Brian Hughes and Harry Skelton, and his ban is set to begin on April 23, the penultimate day of the jumps season.

Paul Nicholls also reported that a post-race endoscopic examination of Politologue revealed the gelding had bled.

Vanillier is smooth Albert Bartlett winner

Vanillier made all the running to give Irish trainer Gavin Cromwell his second winner of the meeting in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Flooring Porter led all the way to take the Stayers’ Hurdle on Thursday and Vanillier (14-1) repeated the trick in the Grade One over three miles.

Both horses should have been ridden by Jonathan Moore, but he declared himself not enough to ride after a fall earlier in the month. Danny Mullins was the beneficiary in the Stayers’ and it was Mark Walsh who deputised this time. Moore led in both winners.

Vanillier proved an able partner as he travelled beautifully throughout the race before scooting up the hill to seal the victory by 11 lengths from Oscar Elite.

Streets Of Doyen was a length and a half back in third, with Stattler fourth.

Cromwell said: “That was fantastic. I wasn’t sure how he’d act on better ground as he’s quite a slow horse, but Mark said he travelled with loads of enthusiasm today.

“He showed an extra gear there he hasn’t shown before and we know he stays well. I’m not surprised he won, but I’m surprised how well he won.

“The ground at Christmas at Limerick was knee deep, but he stayed on well at the finish. He had a small wind op after that, but at the Dublin Racing Festival he ran no race, like all mine there that weekend and he came back a sick horse. He’s bounced back, though.

“He’ll go chasing next season, he’s a proper staying chaser of the future.”

Walsh said: “I was always happy how he was going, he might have been doing too much in front early, but he settled eventually.

“I got a good breather going to the second-last and when I couldn’t hear anyone coming I kicked and he found plenty.

“It’s unfortunate for Jonny, he’s missed out on two Grade Ones but fair play to him for doing it (standing himself down) – it takes a lot of guts to do that.

“I’ve had three seconds here this week so to finally get my head back in front was brilliant.”

Damalisque enters Leopardstown reckoning with Navan victory

Damalisque could make a swift reappearance at next weekend’s Dublin Racing Festival after leading home a one-two-three for leading owner JP McManus in the featured Navan Handicap Hurdle on Friday.

A field of 20 runners went to post for the 40,000 euros contest, the main event on a card which was saved and rescheduled after being abandoned due to frost last Saturday.

Having been narrowly beaten when favourite for the similarly competitive Brown Lad Handicap Hurdle at Naas on his latest appearance, the Eddie Harty-trained Damalisque was well fancied to go one better in the hands of Mark Walsh.

Supporters of the 5-1 chance would have been thrilled to see him travelling strongly all the way up the home straight and he never looked in serious danger of being caught after hitting the front – passing the post with seven and a half lengths in hand over Mon Lino.

Harty, who saddled the McManus-owned Kilfenora to win the race last season, said of his latest victor: “He was possibly a bit unlucky in the Brown Lad, where he ran a huge race, and it’s nice to repay the faith by winning the race again for JP.

“He’s entered next week at Leopardstown (William Fry Handicap Hurdle) and he might sneak in now with a penalty for this.

“He’s won well there over two and a half miles and I don’t see why he wouldn’t get three miles at Leopardstown. We’ll see how he comes out of this before making a final decision.

“He’s a nice horse and has had his problems through the years, but he’s come good now.”

Damalisque’s triumph was the highlight of a four-timer for McManus and Walsh, with the pair also striking gold with Thedevilscoachman, Gars De Sceaux and Sir Bob.

Dual winner Thedevilscoachman (3-1) was dropping in class for the Dunmoe Rated Novice Hurdle, having finished fifth behind star novice Appreciate It in a Grade One at Leopardstown last month, and made the most of the opportunity to with a decisive three-length verdict.

“I was a bit disappointed with him at Leopardstown, but Mark said he was very green,” said Meade.

“I don’t know where we will go next or what we will do, but he’s a nice horse.

“He’s very laidback. He’s only just lobbing along until you want him and then he picks up.”

Odds-on backers were made to sweat before collecting their winnings after division two of the Graigs Lane Maiden Hurdle, with Fair Frontieres making Gordon Elliott’s 8-15 favourite Gars De Sceaux pull out all the stops.

“Mark said he’s a grand horse. He missed the last two hurdles and landed on all fours,” said Elliott.

“He’s a big, raw horse and one for next year. I’d say he won’t be a horse until he jumps a fence.”

An excellent day for the McManus-Walsh combination was completed by Robert Tyner’s Sir Bob (14-1) in the Ardmulchan Handicap Hurdle.

Elliott was less happy after division one of the maiden hurdle, with his 10-11 shot Folcano controversially beaten a nose by John Joseph Murphy’s Brazos (11-2).

The stewards called an inquiry shortly after the pair had passed the line after it became clear the winner had drifted right after the final flight – but to the surprise of many, the placings remained unaltered.

Elliott added: “I thought he (Folcano) should have got it. It’s disappointing for the owners. I’ll have to discuss it (an appeal) with them, but we’ll probably take it on the chin.

“The consistency of these stewards inquiries is barbaric. I don’t know what you have to do to get a race.”

The Cullentra handler went on to land the bumper with the impressive newcomer Three Stripe Life (4-5 favourite), ridden by Jamie Codd.

Elliott said: “We think a good bit of him and he’s done everything right at home.

“He could be a Cheltenham bumper horse – I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.”

Mr Hendricks (10-1) could be targeted at the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter after landing the Wilkinstown Beginners Chase for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power.

Harrington said: “He was very good. He’s been crying out for three miles and he has to go left-handed.

“He’s an enormous horse – over 17 hands. He jumped well and Robert is delighted with him.

“A long time ago I said the Midlands National could be a race for him, so he could easily end up there.

“I have a good record in the race with novices. Miss Orchestra (1998) and Intelligent (2003) won it and Badgerlaw was second.”

Andy Dufresne keeps unbeaten record over fences intact

Andy Dufresne maintained his unbeaten record over fences when making most of the running in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Klairon Davis Novice Chase at Navan.

The six-year-old built on his winning debut over fences at Wexford to get the better of his two rivals in the Grade Three contest.

Cavalry Master tried to keep company with Andy Dufresne but was dropped from the third-last fence, meaning the Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old only had Gigginstown House Stud’s other runner, Embittered, to deal with.

The 8-15 favourite duly showed a good attitude in keeping on stoutly to keep that rival at bay by three lengths. Cavalry Master was 56 lengths away last of the three.

Andy Dufresne was cut to 16-1 from 25-1 by Betfair for the Sporting Life Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.

Elliott said: “He knew he had a race from the last home and I’d say he wants two and a half miles.

“Christmas may come a bit soon for him and he could be one for something like (the Grade One at) Fairyhouse over two and a half miles.”

Unexcepted impresses with victory on chasing debut

Unexcepted put up a sparkling round of jumping to win the Cashel Beginners Chase at Tipperary – in which odds-on favourite Captain Guinness was pulled up at halfway.

Henry de Bromhead’s Captain Guinness was expected to take high rank among this season’s novice chasers, given how well he was running in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March before he was unfortunately brought down.

Rachael Blackmore set out to make all on the favourite. But after an awkward jump, they conceded the lead to Willie Mullins’ Unexcepted – and Blackmore soon realised all was not well and pulled him up.

That is to take nothing away from the 7-2 winner, though, who was virtually foot perfect throughout for Mark Walsh en route to an eight-length success from Entoucas.

A hurdles winner on his Irish debut last season from the smart Jason The Militant, he was then beaten at odds-on at Limerick and pulled up early in a big handicap in February – but he is clearly over whatever was ailing him that day.

Betway were impressed and gave the winner a 14-1 quote for the Arkle in March, while Betfair are offering 20-1.

“He jumped brilliant and he was out-jumping Rachael (Blackmore), and I was taking him back over the first four fences,” said Walsh.

“After that I said ‘this lad is winging’ – so I just let him go, and he loved it. He was very quick over his fences and makes lengths at them, so you’d have to be delighted with that.

“He is a half-brother to (Grade One-winning chaser) Great Field, so hopefully he’ll go the same way and win a few of those good races.”

Blackmore reported to the stewards that Captain Guinness returned “unsound behind”.