O'Brien mare causes upset


DOUBLE SYMPHONY'S success in Sunday's featured Dennys Gold Medal Chase may have taken connections and punters alike by surprise but although beaten in all but one of her previous outings over fences, this little mare has always shown battling qualities and never more so than on Sunday when, given a superb ride by Charlie Swan, she defeated the warm favourite Ventana Canyon by a length and a half.

The attendance of 8,500 was about half that of a St Stephen's Day meeting and the tote aggregate of £214,000 was some £60,000 down on the 1994 figures.

Blinkers probably made a significant difference to Double Symphony who jumped well and although passed by Ventana Canyon on landing over the penultimate fence, was back in contention at the last.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien had expected to run Double Symphony in a handicap chase at Limerick but after that success has to set his sights rather higher - to win the Arkle Chases here at Leopardstown and at Cheltenham. "She is way better on good ground," he said "and runs better when she gets a three week break - which was seldom enough last season." After the thaw Sunday's ground was pretty testing.

Suitably impressed with Elas Image's performance in winning the Dennys Juvenile Hurdle, Mike Dillon of Ladbrokes has cut her Triumph Hurdle odds from 20 to 1 to 14 to 1 second favourite behind 10 to 1 chance Our Kris.

Michael O'Brien believes that Elas Image will be even better than the stable's Shawiya who became the first filly to win the Triumph in 1993. "Shawiya was a good ground filly and would not handle this going whereas Elas Image will go on all kinds. She is going to improve.

Unbeaten in her three runs over hurdles Elas Image is in the AIG Irish Champion Hurdle, "but I doubt if I will subject her to that. She is more likely to run at Punchestown three weeks before Cheltenham."

Jumping most impressively throughout the winner and Theatre world did battle from the second last and were virtually alongside over the last Elas Image stayed on the better on the rails to win by three lengths.

O'Brien initiated a winning double with Akhiyar in the Kerry Spring Maiden Hurdle. This form& John Oxx-trained Flat racer had his race in safe keeping on rising to the last and ran on well to beat Supervene by two and a half lengths.

In the absence of Montelado - withdrawn because of the ground conditions and being travel weary after his recent return from the aborted Kempton meeting - the December Hurdle was won by Kharasar who raced away on the run-in to beat Sambara.

The winner is now bound for the Ladbroke and has been installed second favourite at 10 to 1 behind the British trained Express Gift. Montelado heads for the AIG Irish Champion Hurdle here on January 21st followed by the Smurfit Champion Hurdle. Hotel Minella was found to be post race distressed.