Mallowney continues rapid progress but isn’t going to Cheltenham
Lean Araig wins Grade Two novice hurdle as Robbie Colgan earns four-day ban
Arctic Skipper, ridden by Andrew Lynch, leads the field home to win the he Paddy Power Shops 10.30am Sunday Service Maiden Hurdle at Naas. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho
A Naas fixture billed as ‘Cheltenham Trial Day’ was lit up by sparkling Grade Two success for Mallowney, a horse not even entered for the festival in a fortnight’s time.
A fatal final fence fall by Moscow Mannon in the €46,000 Paddy Power Chase ultimately allowed Mallowney stroll home by 17 lengths under Davy Russell but the Tim Doyle-trained star looked to have had the race in safe keeping anyway.
It continued Mallowney’s rapid progress so far in 2015, securing a first Grade Two pot just a month after turning a €100,000 Fairyhouse handicap into a 10-length rout.
Even considering Sire De Grugy’s own impressive handicap victory at Chepstow a day before, and a potential Queen Mother Champion Chase line-up which will also include Sprinter Sacre, if the horse owned by Tipperary TD Michael Lowry was festival-bound he would go there as the most progressive two-mile chaser in Ireland right now.
What Doyle might really appreciate is if that map took in Naas again as Mallowney is now unbeaten in four starts around the track. And Russell is four from six on the free-wheeling nine year old.
“Davy seems to be the key to him, and he does love this place,” smiled Doyle. “We’ll stick to our plan and go to Fairyhouse for the Normans Grove and Punchestown (Champion Chase.) He seems to be stepping up the whole time.”
The Grade Two novice hurdle turned into a dour affair and ultimately went to Lean Araig, another horse with no Cheltenham aspirations that will also be taking the Fairyhouse-Punchestown Spring route.
Oliver McKiernan’s runner looked far from a likely winner for much of the race, having to be ridden away from the stands with a circuit to go by Robbie Colgan, never appearing to travel well, and yet ultimately proving too strong for Modem in the closing stages.
Stamina was never going to be an issue for a proven winner at three miles and McKiernan said: “I always felt two miles would be too short for him but that gives us options now. I think what I learned from that is he really needs a lead!”
Colgan afterwards got a four day ban from the stewards for excessive use of the whip.
Gigginstown Stud’s No. 1 rider Bryan Cooper had four to pick from in the €50,000 novice handicap chase and got it wrong with Bishops Road managing only fifth behind another of the 9-2 co-favourites Empire Of Dirt.
A shoeLuke Dempsey
Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown colours were also successful in the concluding two-runner bumper as Tycoon Prince won for the third time, beating his 4-9 opponent Up For Review who had been second favourite for the Cheltenham bumper in two weeks time.
His defeat completed a rare weekend blank for the Willie Mullins team.
Tycoon Prince is finished for the season and trainer Gordon Elliott was looking well beyond Cheltenham.
He said: “We look like we could have an exciting bunch of novice hurdlers next season. It should be exciting.”
Noel Meade drew a blank from his three runners at Naas but did give a positive update on his Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Road To Riches, as low as 6-1 second favourite for steeplechasing’s blue-riband, behind the King George winner Siliviniaco Conti.
“If we can believe the Nicholls horse (Silviniaco Conti) will show his Kempton form at Cheltenham he will be the one to beat. But I believe there isn’t a whole lot between the rest of them, including my fellah,” Meade reported.
“He did a piece of work on Saturday and we were thrilled with him. I’d like it if the ground came up goodish on the day.”