Tammys Hill proves too strong for Cheltenham hero Salsify


RACING: Last season’s Cheltenham Foxhunter hero Salsify had to settle for runner-up spot on his return to action as Tammys Hill proved too strong in the Rosslare Hunters Chase at Wexford yesterday.

Onefortheroad Mac led by a long way in the early stages of the two-mile six-furlong event but came back to the field two from home. Tammys Hill soon took over and was tracked through by Salsify.

Liam Lennon’s prolific point-to-point winner had too many gears for the even-money favourite in the closing stages and stayed on strongly for James Smyth, riding in his father Patrick’s colours, for a three-and-a-half length win.

Salsify had proven easy to back on his return having been as short as 8 to 15 in the morning and touching 5 to 4 in the ring.

The winner has been a money-spinner for connections and was taking his 12th race and his third “on the track”. “He was beaten on very heavy ground up North the last day and we took him here for the slighly better ground. The ground makes a big difference to him,” said the winning rider afterwards.

“He’ll go to Cheltenham in March and before that there is Down Royal on Boxing Day. Punchestown is also an option.”

Nice start

Jockey Colman Sweeney was happy with the performance of Salsify on his seasonal debut, saying: “It’s a nice start back and he probably needed it a bit. He probably would have got away with it on nicer ground.”

Speed Dial hung on in a driving finish to the Gorey Handicap Hurdle for trainer Pat Hughes. Luddsdenene went clear early in the two-miler but was pegged back two out and Speed Dial travelled well to lead before the home turn. He was soon tackled by Jacks Island, however, and had to pull out all the stops on the run-in under Tim Carroll.

The two flashed past the post locked together as the runner-up just failed by a short-head to peg his rival back.

Speed Dial was gaining a deserved success having been runner-up on two of his last three efforts and falling when looking set to score at Clonmel last month.

“I’m not convinced he would have won at Clonmel as he barely gets two miles,” said Hughes.

Winning debut

“He doesn’t travel too well but he comes flying at the finish. He has come good this year. He doesn’t want the ground too heavy and that’s why we rode him on the outside. He’ll go to Gowran again next week.”

Catimini made a winning debut for trainer Seán Byrne in the concluding mares bumper. The 16 to 1 shot was partnered by the trainer’s son and namesake and got on top in the closing stages to land the spoils.

The Golan filly was produced to challenge on the home turn and hit the front inside the final furlong, holding the late charge of Myblueeyedgirl by half a length. “She’s only a four-year-old so we won’t be too hard on her. She might run in a bumper again over Christmas,” said Byrne senior.

“She’s out of a good mare and she’s never even run in a schooling race before today.”

Well-backed 4 to 7 favourite Shake The Tree, trained by Willie Mullins, lost ground at the start and failed to get into contention, finishing fourth. “She shied away from the tape and is just a green mare,” reported rider Patrick Mullins.

The Mullins partnership had better luck with Tasitiocht, who made all to justify her short price in the mares novice hurdle. “She’ll be kept to those mares novice hurdles wherever we find the opportunities,” said the winning handler.

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