Byrnes double the highlight at Leopardstown

 

County Limerick trainer Charles Byrnes took the honours with a big-race double at Leopardstown today.

Cloudy Bays set up the brace with an impressive 14-length victory over Be My Belle in the Pierse Leopardstown Handicap Chase and has now earned a step up in grade for his next start.

The seven-year-old jumped well for Ross Geraghty to make all the running in the 100,000 euro contest, despite a 16lb rise in the ratings for an easy success in the Troytown Chase at Navan in November.

Dromlease Express benefited from a patient Johnny Allen ride to land the Pierse Hurdle at Leopardstown today.

The 6-1 joint-favourite was held up at the rear of the 19-runner field by the 7lb claimer, as Larkhill Jo cut out the running at a good pace in the 130,000 contest.

On the run to the penultimate flight, Macs Joy went on pressed by Georges Girl with Dromlease Express making relentless headway on the outside. Producing a good turn of foot, Dromlease Express quickened to lead at the last and a good jump there settled the issue.

The six-year-old only had to be kept up to his work to beat Macs Joy (14-1) by three and a half lengths. Georges Girl (7-1) was third with Steel Band (20-1) back in fourth.

Beechcourt, the other market leader, flattered briefly coming off the final bend but soon cried enough and dropped out of contention as the principals went on.

Byrnes, who has 25 horses in training but moves to a new 40-box yard next week, said: "He's a tough little horse and it took a long time for him to develop.

"He showed a little bit more in his second season. He finished fourth in a novice hurdle in Galway and after that we thought a lot more of him.

"We really fancied him today and we were thinking that if he was within three or four lengths turning for home he'd win. He'll stay more than two miles."