Sayce Gold looks a hugely exciting prospect for Mick Winters having strolled to victory in the Kerry Group Stayers Novice Hurdle at Cork.
Winters has scaled the heights of the game with the likes of Rebel Fitz and Missunited – and after a few quiet seasons he looks sure to be back in big time with this Trevor Hemmings-owned mare.
The seven-year-old won a point-to-point last November and broke her duck under rules in her second bumper at Fairyhouse last month.
Sent immediately over hurdles, the imposing type stepped up to just short of three miles at Thurles and fairly bolted up, making all the running.
Up in class to Grade Three company on this occasion, she was ridden with more restraint by Darragh O’Keeffe but never looked in any danger.
Always travelling extremely strongly, O’Keeffe was happy to stick to the rail while several rivals went in search of better ground and on turning into the straight Sayce Gold (7-4) was clear.
She did not have to be asked a question to beat Ragnar Lodbrok by eight lengths.
“We are very lucky to have one like that and we have great help at home and all work together. Darragh O’Keeffe came over the other day when Brian Hayes (riding at Punchestown) couldn’t make it and did a bit of work with her,” said Winters.
“She learned a bit today as she didn’t have to do it all in front.
“I think two and a half miles is perfect for her and soft ground is a help – if the ground was too quick you wouldn’t run, she loves to put her toe into it. I have no idea what plans are and I’ll leave that to Mick Meagher, Trevor’s manager.”
Reflecting on some of the good horses he has had in his care, Winters said: “Some horses you can see, some you can’t. When Rebel Fitz came into the yard, he reminded me of Master Minded, although I had one horse Monsignor (dual Cheltenham winner) who was a great mover and I even had him out hunting, but he slipped me.
“I had him out hunting and a man hopped off him after a day’s hunting and said ‘he’s only a hunter!’.
“If she (Sayce Gold) is one piece and we are all alive, fences are tempting.”
Mount Ida put in a huge leap at the final fence to win the Kerry Group Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase.
Trained by Gordon Elliott, the six-year-old had finished one place behind Joseph O’Brien’s Scarlet And Dove in third at this track last month, and the two met again on the same terms.
It was the two main market protagonists who were fighting out the finish in the straight and the final fence proved a turning point.
Denis O’Regan was positive on his mount, asking for everything, and she fairly flew it, while Scarlet And Dove was not quite as fluent.
Mount Ida, the 5-2 favourite, went on to win by four and a half lengths.
“She stayed at it well. I felt if she showed up in the same form as the last day, with a good round of jumping, and go forward a bit earlier, she was bound to be competitive,” said O’Regan.
“She possibly came forward from her run the last day and that run the last day wasn’t a bad race. It is lovely to win the race and get the black type all in one.
“It’s great to get a winner for Gordon.”