O'Brien's fine run continues


THE bookmakers returned to work yesterday following the Leopardstown boycott, and their presence helped to bring a sizeable number of racegoers to Navan, where Aidan O'Brien continued his fine start to the New Year with his third double in as many racing days.

Well regarded at home, Toast The Spreece produced his best performance over hurdles to date with success in the Navan Novice Hurdle, where he came between the front-running Buggy and the well backed favourite, Be Home Early, before the last to win by a length.

Corket, racing for the first time since February and having his first start over fences, only led a stride before the last to win the E.B.F. Beginners Chase from Rocketts Castle to complete the O'Brien double.

Eugene O'Donnell, representing O'Brien, said: "Aidan's horses missed a lot of work in the days after Christmas and over the New Year period, so he will be delighted that they are, running so well."

Trainer Russell MacNabb, who trains in Downpatrick, enjoyed his biggest success to date when the much improved Gravity Gate, ridden by young Tom Martin, a last minute replacement for Conor O'Dwyer, scored a five lengths victory in the listed Proudstown Handicap Hurdle.

MacNabb said: "He has now won four times for me over hurdles and I hope he will be equally successful when we put him over fences next season."

Tom Rudd, celebrating his 25th birthday, grabbed a share of the day's riding honours when landing a double on Glebe Lad in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle and Arctic Weather in the Trim Handicap Chase. Both horses are trained by Michael O'Brien.

The well-bred Sorcerer's Drum comfortably beat Stagalier to win the Mullacurry Maiden Hurdle for Arthur Moore, who plans to run Klairon Davis in a handicap chase over two miles at Navan in early February.