With just one shopping day left to Christmas punters were anxious to make some late cash to defray the expenses at Thurles on Saturday and with three favourites plus a joint favourite obliging in the first four races most were on reasonably terms with themselves before Denis Hogan supplied a 25/1 winner of the handicap hurdle.
However, all was not lost as the well supported Byerley Babe simply bolted up in the bumper.
Grand National winning trainer Jimmy Mangan got proceedings underway when he saddled Noras Fancy to capture the two mile and two handicap chase for claiming riders. Starting joint favourite with Reality Dose the daughter of Brian Boru was always in the firing line and once jockey David Splaine sent her to the front after the second last fence she stayed on strongly to land the spoils by three lengths from Colls Corner with the Edward O’Grady trained Quiet Thought further twelve lengths back in third place.
Soft ground specialist the winner was sporting a first time visor as Mangan felt that she was not concentrating since going chasing, she was a high class mare over hurdles and if transferring that form to the larger obstacles she should certainly pay her way while the going remains testing.
Whiskey and red is doing his bit to enhance the cause of the Garryrichard Stud base stallion Craigsteel and he recorded his third success when taking the time honoured Molony Cup handicap chase over three mile in the hands of Davy Russell.
Robertstown Rover under Mark Enright attempted to make all the running but he was closely attended to by Whiskey And Red from the third last, the latter touched down in front at the final fence and pulled out plenty to hit the wire a length and a quarter to the good.
Described as being a good tough genuine horse by winning handler Colin Bowe the winner will be kept on the go in an effort to add to his collection.
Willie Mullins was expected to complete a three timer but in the end had to be satisfied with a double which was initiated by Midnight Game in the Listed Hurdle over two miles.
Only four went to post and Midnight Game which was an impressive winner on his seasonal bow at Fairyhouse at the beginning of the month was a warm order in the betting market although Joxer from the Billy Harney stable had his admirers also.
When this pair met at Leopardstown last Christmas there was precious little between them and it was the same here but in the end Midnight Game found that little more from the last home to prevail by a length and so complete a riding double for Davy Russell.
The French import Unika La Reconce made her first appearance for the Willie Mullins yard a winning one when she spreadeagled her field in the two mile mares maiden hurdle.
Sent to the front right from the off by Ruby Walsh the four year old had her race in safer keeping from early in the straight and the further she went the further distance she put between herself and her rivals.
At the post she had twelve lengths to spare over Speckled Wood but this margin could have been greater had Walsh desired.
In his post race remarks Mullins revealed that this is a fine big mare and will make a better chaser than a hurdler, she will go down the mares route for the time being but will take on the boys at some stage along the line.
Mullins supplied his son Patrick with the ride on Goldboy in the bumper in an effort to help him break the amateur riders record for winners in a calendar year but it was not to be as the combination finished well adrift of the nicely backed Byerley Babe.
A point to point winner back in March but an expensive failure in a bumper at Cork the Beneficial mare had useful outing over hurdles at the venue last month, she showed that was no flash in the pan as she landed some hefty wagers when coming from off the pace to lead a furlong out and go right away for an eight and a half length success.
On this evidence this is a more than useful mare as her jockey Brian O’Neill was still taking a pull early in the straight in as he did not want to hit the front too soon.
Cloughjordan based trainer cum jockey Denis Hogan caused a major upset when taking the two mile and six 85-108 handicap hurdle courtesy of Missie Ella.
Having not reached the frame in four outings this season so far the Barathea filly had few takers 25/1 but she failed to read the script as she made almost every yard of the running and in spite of jumping left at number of hurdles had enough in reserve take the money by three and a half lengths from Brian Who.
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