When the Willie Mullins trained Bally Longford ran out a well backed winner of the opening two mile and four maiden hurdle at Clonmel on Friday evening, it looked as though favourite backers were in for a profitable evening but it was all downhill from there as one by one the first market choices bit the dust and we had to wait until the last race for a joint favourite to succeed to give some small relieve to punters.
The biggest offender was Esporao who turned the two mile beginners chase into a procession at odds of 25/1. Trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by Barry Cash the son of Hawk Wing had in and out form over hurdles and was making his chasing debut so it was not surprising to see it go to post at such fancy odds. However, racing is not called the glorious uncertainty for nothing as Esporao made every post a winning one to come home eight lengths clear of the Jimmy Finn runner Coldstonesober.
The big disappointment of the race was the heavily backed favourite Owega Star, a Grade2 winning hurdler the six year old had made a satisfactory chasing bow at Roscommon but was never in the hunt and was well adrift of the principals at the finish.
Another heavily backed favourite to come unstuck was the Noel Meade representative Thomond who found Goodoldhonkytonk a length and three parts too good in the second division of the two mile and four maiden hurdle. On paper at least this was the weaker division and Thomond who failed to win his bumper but shaped much better on his hurdling debut was confidently expected to do the business. Given a patient ride by Barry the Definite Article gelding improved to be on terms going to the final flight but failed to find as much as Goodoldhonkytonk on the run-in. According to connections he is a chaser in the making and anything he achieves over hurdles is going to be a bonus.
Goodoldhonkytonk was the middle leg of a three-timer for rider Andrew Lynch who had also taken the first division courtesy of Bally Longford. A Downpatrick bumper winner the Gold Well gelding had finished a good second over the course and distance last month so he was well entitled to head the market. Lynch settled him just behind the leaders before sending him into the lead three flights out and from there the combination drew steadily clear to win unchallenged by six and a half lengths from Aces And Kings. Considered to be a good ground animal the winner still handled the rain-softened ground well, he looks a nice prospect and could well be among out leading staying novice hurdlers come next spring.
Lynch completed his nap hand when giving Breffni Gael a fine ride to capture the two and a half mile 82-102 handicap chase. Davy Russell’s mount Easy Vic started favourite here but like so many others on the evening ran below expectations, in contrast Breffni Gael was always close to the pace before hitting the front at the third from home. Going to the penultimate fence there three in contention including the Pat Carey runner Code Dancer and Sea Master, the latter departed the scene hampering Code Dancer leaving Breffni Gael a clear cut three and a quarter length winner. Code Dancer which finished second to Breffni Gael at Tramore on her previous outing ran another sound race and her turn must not be very far away.
Cashel based owner/breeder Peter Magnier is enjoying plenty of success with horses trained by Mags Mullins and they enjoyed yet another victory when BL Swagger ran out a comfortable winner of the bumper. Having finished a creditable to the hot favourite Rough Justice at the venue month earlier BL Swagger was surprisingly easy to back