Abbey Lane delivers for Mullins
Racing:Abbey Lane (16-1) came with a strong late run to claim another big pot for champion trainer Willie Mullins in the Boylesports.com Handicap Hurdleat Leopardstown. Ridden by his nephew Emmet, the eight-year-old jumped into contention at the final flight and battled on stoutly on the run-in to win by two and a half lengths.
Rocky Wednesday was second with the gambled-on 9-2 favourite Ted Veale just behind in third and Joxer fourth.
Mullins said: “He ran right up to his rating last time out at Fairyhouse and I thought he handled that real heavy ground and any time you have horses with a nice handicap mark in a big race like that, worth that sort of money, you’ve got to take your chance. I’ll have to have a chat with the owner but maybe we’ll have a look at the County Hurdle at Cheltenham.”
The winning rider said: “I was wide to stay out of trouble as with 30 runners, things can get a bit messy. I knew once I got to the leaders I was always going to outstay them. He’s a real galloper and he’s probably going to be a better chaser next year.”
Stan James gave Abbey Lane a 16-1 quote for the County Hurdle.Benefficient won a dramatic race in a three-runner affair for the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase.Tony Martin’s charge made the most of a fall at the fourth-fence of the hot favourite Arvika Ligeonniere and had just headed Oscars Well when he made a hash of the last.
That left Benefficient (10-1) to come home well clear under Bryan Cooper and register a second Grade One success after the Deloitte Novice Hurdle last February.
“That’s racing, we had the rub of the green today," Martin said. "It couldn’t have happened to nicer lads, I’m just so happy for my owners. I feel so sorry for Willie (Mullins, trainer) and Rich Ricci (owner) but they were getting plenty of luck and it’s our luck today. I just hope the other two horses are all right.
“We were a length off ‘Puppy’ (Robert Power, on Oscars Well) halfway up the straight and we actually jumped the last a length in front of him, so you can’t say Benefficient was lucky with regards to Oscars Well. I don’t know, he might have won or he mightn’t but I’m absolutely delighted.”
Looking ahead, Martin said: “I’ve no set plans. We got today out of the way and we’ll see how we go now. He’ll get an entry in the Arkle and Jewson (at Cheltenham). We’ll pick what looks the lesser race and try and stay away from the likes of Simonsig. We’ll set out to get place money, like today, and anything else is a bonus."
Texas Jack sprang something of a surprise under a canny ride from Paul Carberry to win the Boylesports.com — Bet On Your Mobile Novice Chase.Carberry crept Noel Meade’s seven-year-old into the race from the second-last and led after jumping the final fence.
However, Texas Jack (6-1) was all out to hold Lord Windermere by half a length in a bunch finish for this Grade Two over two miles and five furlongs.
Meade said: “He jumped brilliant and he got a brilliant ride, as per usual. I thought in the last 100 yards that they were going to come back and do him, but Paul obviously conjured up another little bit out of him.
“He’s a good horse, he ran a good race here at Christmas and Paul felt going back to two-mile-five-furlongs might suit him best and that proved spot on. He handles the ground well. We’ve been racing in ground like this all winter so we’re used to it. He might come back here for the Dr P.J Moriarty in two weeks’ time, I don’t know. I don’t think we’ll go to Cheltenham with him but if we did, maybe we’ll go for the novice handicap. I think he’ll stay at home and maybe the Powers Gold Cup is a race you could think about as well.”
Carberry added: “He’s a very exciting horse, he jumped very well. I decided to drop him in because the last day here he jumped very well down the back but when he got to the front, he ended up stopping on me so I said I’d come late today. He did it very well, I even got there a bit soon but when he heard the other horses coming back at him he put his head down again. I let the others do the hard work and then I came to take it off them.”Farrells Fancy (9-1) was all out to land the spoils in the Leopardstown Handicap Chase.
Terence O’Brien’s charge was always prominent and led before the second-last, although Sweet My Lord looked like putting in a strong challenge when he fell at the final fence.
Farrells Fancy was treading water in the final strides but 5lb Mark Enright held him together to hold the late bid of Sweeney Tunes by a head with Klepht third and Carlingford Lough fourth.
O’Brien said: “In fairness to the horse, we always thought there was a big prize in him. We very nearly didn’t run today because I just thought he doesn’t really like heavy ground. It was touch and go whether we’d run or not, it was only on the toss of a coin really that we ran. He had bits of problems as he got a stress fracture but he gives everything.”
Enright added: “He was keen all the way, he was running away from me for most of the race and I just had to keep bringing him back. Going to the second-last, I let him roll and he winged it and got a good jump at the last. I had to give it hell for leather from the last as he just idled on the way to the line.”