Trainer Willie Mullins continues to dominate Irish racing and he teamed up with Ruby Walsh to complete a terrific four-timer on a damp afternoon and under heavy conditions at Powerstown Park, Clonmel last Thursday.
The feature event, the Grade 3 Surehaul Mercedes Benz Novice Hurdle, was the major attraction of the afternoon and it saw the Mullins and Walsh combination complete a hat-trick with the 11/10 favourite Inish Island having earlier taken the first two races.
Ruby was content to sit behind on Inish Island for much of the trip but he gradually made up ground and only his mount and the Philip Fenton trained Venture Capital counted at the penultimate hurdle. The favourite was clearly going the better, however, and despite a mistake at the last had two lengths in hand of his rival at the line. Dushybeag running in the colours of sponsor Donal O’Connor took third money eleven lengths in arrears of runner-up. The impressive winner, which did not have a hard race, now looks likely to be aimed at the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at the rapidly approaching Cheltenham festival.
The meeting began with The Surehaul Race Day Maiden Hurdle over two and a half miles and the Mullins runner Sarabad and Lughnasa from the Robert Tyner yard went off the joint favourites at 7/4. Sarabad set out to make all in the stamina sapping conditions and this hitherto disappointing sort appreciated the trip and the going. His market rival closed in the straight but looked beaten when falling at the second last to leave the winner come home alone by a huge twenty-nine length margin from Asitsohappens with Royal Flight two lengths away in third place. The winning trainer observed post race that a step up to three miles could be on the cards for Sarabad.
The second event was The Kilsheelan Mares Hurdle and here the Mullins runner Annie Power was red hot at 1/3 to complete a five-timer. Ruby Walsh’s mount again made all and despite a mistake at the final hurdle was eased down to score by six and a half lengths from the McManus runner Dressedtothenines with Eyesontheprize twenty lengths back in a field that was stretched out like the proverbial washing. Willie Mullins expressed his pleasure at the manner of the win but felt that it was unlikely that the mare would be travelling to the Cheltenham “as there were plenty of good prizes for her here”.
Annie Power owned by Mrs. S. Ricci was completing a double for owner, trainer and jockey.
Having earlier completed the treble on Inish Island owned by Susan and Hazel Flanagan and Patrick R. Flanagan in the Grade 3 event the Mullins and Walsh pairing went in search of their four-timer with the 5/6 favourite Call The Police in the Derrygrath Chase over two and a half miles. Ruby was happy to bide his time on this occasion and challenged Magnanimity at the second last but had to be bustled up to take the measure of that rival before going on to score by three and a half lengths. Paddytheplasterer took third place and ran a good race under conditions that were against him. The winner is well entered up and the John Smith Grand National is among the options open to him.
He is owned by The Dd Racing Syndicate and he was completing a great afternoon for the trainer and rider who had one more string to their bow.
That was Cadspeed which went off the 2/1 favourite to make it a five-timer in the Kilmolash Beginners Chase. This one looked to have every chance in the straight but not for the first time faded tamely and could only manage third place after a bad mistake at the final fence which left him sixteen lengths in arrears of the principals.
The spoils went to the well supported 3/1 chance Savello which led seven fences from home and stayed on well to win comfortably by five and a half lengths from Page Turner.
Davy Russell had the mount on the winner which is trained in Summerhill, Co. Meath by Tony Martin and owned by the Gigginstown Stud.
Doneraile trainer John J. Walsh who has a good record at the track had another winner when his 7/2 favourite Whiskey and Rye took the Minorstown Handicap Hurdle. The gelding came from behind to collar the leader Fiery Oscar inside the final furlong and win going away by two and a quarter lengths in the hands of Brian O’Connell. Wild Salmon took third place eight and a half lengths behind the runner-up. Whiskey and Rye carried top weight of 11-12 and though not an easy ride has the stamp of a chaser.
The final race of the afternoon was The Woodroofe Maiden Hunters Chase for which Final Act and By Design were joint favourites at 5/2. Final Act could only manage fifth place and By Design from the Arthur Moore yard was in the leading group when falling three from home. The 14/1 chance Ibetellingyouakie gave the layers some respite when driven clear from the last fence to score an eight and a half length win over another 14/1 chance Mister Philson with the 9/1 shot Lord Heathfield eight and a half lengths back in third place. The winner is owned and trained in Carrigtwohill by Terence O’Brien and was partnered by Mr. P. D. Collins.
The tote aggregate bet for the meeting was 53,700.29 euro in contrast to the 80,533.35 euro wagered at the corresponding meeting last year.
The Jackpot Pool amounted 3,415 euro and 24 winning units each received 106.70 euro.
There were 2,224.22 winners of the Placepot pool of 21,163.85 and each received 7 euro.
The next meeting at Clonmel is on Thursday, February 21.