White Star Line bolts up to take Kerry National and gives Dessie Hughes a welcome lift

Winner may go to Cheltenham but is ground dependent


White Star Line finally lived up to his early promise by bolting up in the Guinness Kerry National at Listowel to give Dessie Hughes a welcome tonic.

Hughes has not been in the best of health recently but if anything could make him feel better it would have been the manner of White Star Line’s five-length victory.

The winner’s chance of even getting a run overnight looked bleak as he was only third reserve, but enough came out to enable him to take his place and Andrew Lynch would not have been able to believe how well he was going down the back straight.

Carlingford Lough performed heroics off his hefty weight to finish second under Tony McCoy, with Muirhead, who was up there all the way, doing well to claim third and Questions Answered placed in the race again in fourth, but this was all about one horse.

Lynch, whose original mount Go All The Way was one of the non-runners, said: “Go All The Way didn’t run because of the ground and I was lucky enough to get the ride on White Star Line so everything panned out well.

“Once I kicked him on turning in, he picked up well and he was always going to win.

“Dessie will be a happy man at home – I was talking to him before the race and hopefully now that (win) will perk him up a bit.”

‘Coming along well’
Hughes’s daughter, Sandra, said of her father: “He is coming along well and the operation went very well. He’s been out on the gallops every morning recently and should be back racing in a few weeks. I was on the phone to him and he was delighted.

“We thought that if the ground wasn’t as bad as they were saying that he would run a hell of a race. Thankfully things were kind for us.

“He had been unlucky until this and had been knocking on the door. He jumped great today and has lots of class.

“I’m not sure of the plan, but he is ground dependent. Hopefully he might travel back to Cheltenham.”

Aidan O’Brien took the feature Flat race of the afternoon, the Edmund & Josie Whelan Memorial Listowel Stakes, with Eye Of The Storm.

The three-year-old looked set for a big campaign earlier on this season after finishing second to Sugar Boy in the Sandown Classic Trial but he was not seen again until Galway last week.

He was surprisingly turned over at odds-on by the gallant Missunited that day but as soon as Joseph O’Brien asked him to take up the running from Inis Meain fully two furlongs out, the result was never in any doubt. The 10/11 favourite galloped through the mud to win by two and a half lengths and could be an interesting contender for the Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Champions Day, for which he is entered.

Eye Of The Storm only has one eye after an accident as a foal.

O’Brien jnr said: “He didn’t do things right at Galway. It was his first run back but he ran off the first bend which cost us six lengths and but for that we would probably have won.

“He travelled nicely today and quickened very well. The plan was to try and get him relaxed and let things happen after that.”