Minella Escape looks sure to go on to bigger and better things after making it third time lucky over hurdles at Tramore.
A £100,000 recruit from the Irish point-to-point field, Henry de Bromhead’s charge fell at the final flight when odds-on for his hurdling bow at Punchestown in September, before filling the runner-up spot at Navan a month ago.
With the Willie Mullins-trained French recruit Gorki D’airy all the rage as the 5-4 favourite, Minella Escape was second best in the market for the Goodbye 2020 Hello 2021 Maiden Hurdle at 2-1, but proved seven lengths too strong under Rachael Blackmore.
De Bromhead said: “He was a little bit unlucky the first day. He was off for a bit before Navan and I wonder did that just catch him out.
“I’m delighted to get a winner here. He is a lovely horse, he won his point-to-point well and the way he jumped there, you’d be looking forward to a fence with him in time.”
Despite Gorki D’airy’s defeat, Mullins still enjoyed a double on the card, with the victory of dual Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo preceded by a winning debut over obstacles for Mr Coldstone in the David Flynn Construction Maiden Hurdle.
The 8-1 shot did not race beyond seven furlongs in three outings on the Flat for Johnny Murtagh two years ago, but proved he has the stamina for jumping with a near three-length verdict on his return from a lengthy absence under Paul Townend.
“That was a nice performance. Paul said he jumped well and he took a good blow, so he thinks he will improve again. We will just go up in grade with him now,” said Mullins.
“I’m very happy to see him coming off three runs on the Flat over less than seven furlongs to be able to settle back into jump racing. I thought that might be a big ask for him on his first run over hurdles, but he did it well and Paul was very happy with him.
“He looks a nice, strong type and he will probably be a nice dual-purpose horse.”
Shakeytry justified 7-2 favouritism in the Core Bullion Traders Handicap Hurdle for trainer Edward O’Grady and jockey Phillip Enright.
O’Grady said: “It was his first run in a long time at Cork the last day and it was natural for him to come on for that. It wasn’t a particularly strong race today and it all seemed to work out well.
“He has very rarely been out of the first four and that is his third win today. The boys in the yard have done a great job with him because he hasn’t got great legs. They deserve great credit.
“Maybe we will go for another hurdle with him now before he goes back over fences.”
Days after his last-gasp victory aboard A Plus Tard in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown, jockey Darragh O’Keeffe was once again seen to good effect as he steered Andrew McNamara’s Lessofdnegativity to a narrow victory in the Tramore Medical Clinic Handicap Hurdle.
Robbie McNamara, representing his father, said: “He’s had a little wind operation since his last run. We just rode him a bit different today and gave him more of a chance early. Darragh took his time and gave him a brilliant ride – he is worth his weight in gold.
“He (Lessofdnegativity) is a half-brother to Joe Farrell, who won the Scottish National. He has a good, staying Irish pedigree and chasing will be his game.”
John McConnell’s Itsalonglongroad (7-2) landed the VS Direct No Limits Marketing Rated Novice Chase under 5lb claimer Simon Torrens.
The concluding Tom Carroll Memorial Handicap Chase went to Whoyakodding (14-1), trained by Garrett Ahern and ridden by James O’Sullivan.