Ballytrim bounces back to form
Racing:Ballytrim bounced back to form to land the Lucan Racing Leinster National Handicap Chase at Naas this afternoon. Willie Mullins' nine-year-old won the Ulster National last season, but was a long way below that form in the Thyestes on his last start and had questions to answer.
Given a patient ride by Paul Townend, the 8-1 shot took a narrow lead approaching the final fence and held off the sustained challenge of Bluesea Cracker to win by half a length.
He was cut to 33-1 from 50s for the Grand National by William Hill, but having been allotted only 10st 1lb at Aintree it is highly unlikely he will get a run.
Zaarito claimed a confidence-boosting success over fences in the Directors Plate Novice Chase.
Colm Murphy's high-class eight-year-old was on a mission of redemption after suffering heavy falls on his last two starts, and he went some way to restoring his reputation with a straightforward success.
Davy Condon's mount (4-7 favourite) barely put a foot wrong over the fences and casually moved through the gears to overtake long-time leader Whatuthink at the second-last before easing to a six-length victory.
Murphy said: "He can jump. He's been unlucky and has done stupid little things at stupid times. He's done a lot of schooling since. Over drains and banks - you name it, he's jumped it.
"We'll stick to the plan and go for the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse. He has plenty of pace and can go up or down in trip. He's grown up a lot as well.
"It's just a matter of keeping him in one piece. The day after Leopardstown he was bucking and rolling. He must be made of elastic or something. We have a bit more confidence after that and he deserved it."
Kevin Coleman made a successful return from injury when steering Whodoyouthink to victory on his first ride back after suffering a broken leg in a schooling accident.
Any fears of rustiness were soon quelled once Oliver McKiernan's representative went in pursuit of Silver Friend after the last in the www.naasracecourse.com Novice Hurdle.
The 5-4 favourite picked up well on the run-in and finished three and a half lengths clear of runner-up Stonemaster, who ran on again once headed after the penultimate flight.
Whodoyouthink was reaping handsome dividends for a drop in class, having previously finished fourth behind Dunguib in the Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.
McKiernan said: "He picked up well from the last to the line. Probably two miles was always going to be a bit short for him, but he showed a nice turn of foot and put it beyond doubt quickly, which I liked.
"We could find nothing wrong at Leopardstown last time, but he emptied very quickly and that's not usual for him. Saying that, it was a better class of race.
"The ground in the straight was good-ish and that suited him. We'll go to Fairyhouse for a two-and-a-half-mile novice now.
"He could run at Punchestown as well and I'd say he'll do another year of hurdling next season."