Aspen Colorado makes it two from two at Leopardstown
Son of Galileo remains favourite for Champion Bumper at Cheltenham
Jockey Donagh Meyler is unseated from Ballycahane at the last fence in the The Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Steeplechase at Leopardstown. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Aspen Colorado took his record to two wins from as many starts in the TRM Excellence In Equine Nutrition (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race at Leopardstown.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained son of Galileo created an impression on his racecourse bow at this track last month and was the 2-7 favourite to follow up under Sarah O’Brien.
The market leader travelled sweetly behind pacesetters The Sneaky Punter and Twotensandalift before moving towards the head of affairs on rounding the home turn.
Newcomer Brelade closed at the line, but the O’Brien runner was a cosy enough half-length winner.
He was left unchanged at 12-1 by Paddy Power for the Champion Bumper, although he is not yet a guaranteed starter at Cheltenham.
O’Brien’s son Joseph does much of the work with his father’s jumps string and said: “I’d imagine he will probably have an entry for Cheltenham and JP (McManus) and Frank (Berry, racing manager) will decide during the week.
“I think so (improvement to come), he was a bit idle when he got to the front, but we’re very happy with him.
“He’s a tough horse and should handle good ground, he’s had two runs now so we’ll see what happens.”
The well-related Jett secured the first victory of his short career in the TRI Equestrian Superstore & Cafe Maiden Hurdle.
Jessica Harrington’s five-year-old is certainly bred for the job as a half-brother to the yard’s Champion Hurdle hero Jezki, while he also counts Grade One winners Jered and Jetson as siblings.
Jett himself shaped with plenty of promise in four bumper appearances and was a 9-1 shot for his jumping bow.
Willie Mullins-trained favourite Potters Point led for much of the two-and-a-half-mile journey and remained in pole position rounding the home turn.
However, he emptied quickly on the run to the final flight and after taking over the running, Jett galloped all the way to the line to prevail by a length and a half.
Space Cadet made good late headway to beat Potters Point to second, the fifth time in succession he has had to make do with the runner-up spot.
Solita claimed victory after a thrilling climax to the Coral.ie Handicap Hurdle.
Outsider Lilshane made a bold bid from the front, but the packed closed up on the run for home.
Paul Nolan’s 16-1 shot Solita was produced with a well-timed challenge by Robbie Power after jumping the final flight and his mount just about got the better of the game leader by a short-head.
Good As Gold was only a length away in third, just ahead of strong-finishing favourite Anibale Fly.
“She had a nice run the last day when she came there after sitting out the back. We were probably too easy on her as she wasn’t fit enough then,” said Nolan.
“Robbie gave her a lovely ride. I thought she was stuck for room turning in but Robbie said on that ground he could use her turn of foot.
“She had a fall over fences at Fairyhouse and then virtually refused to race in Navan. We decided to go back over hurdles to get her confidence back and hopefully that’s worked.
“She’ll switch back to fences now and could go for the mares’ chase at Fairyhouse.”
Great Field made a most impressive Irish debut in the Foxrock Cup Hurdle.
A multiple winner in France, the five-year-old was having his first start for Mullins and leading owner JP McManus and was the 5-2 favourite.
After initially riding with restraint, Barry Geraghty decided to give Great Field his head racing down the back straight and he was soon bowling along at the head of affairs.
Fellow McManus-owned runner Draco briefly looked a threat in the straight, but Geraghty always appeared to have matters in hand and his mount quickened up on the run-in under hand driving to score by four and a half lengths.
Great Field is entered in the Coral Cup, the County Hurdle and the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.
“He looked like a nice recruit to us. We couldn’t get him out earlier as he had a setback or two,” said Mullins.
“He’s entered in the handicaps at Cheltenham and we’ll see what he gets into.
“I wasn’t sure if he was going to run here but he worked well during the week and we said we’d take our chance.
“He was very keen and that wouldn’t be good going to Cheltenham, but they will be going a bit faster over there.
“He’s really a chaser as he’s a fine big, strong horse. I thought he jumped fantastically and he’s a horse for the future, I think.”
Alisier D’Irlande confirmed himself a smart prospect with an impressive all-the-way success in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Novice Chase.
A fine jumper, he was a little less exuberant in his movements than when leading from the front at Naas earlier this month and Andrew Lynch had lots of horse underneath him coming to the last.
I’m All You Need briefly got within relative striking distance, but the 4-7 favourite flew the final obstacle pretty much like all of the others and bounced clear for a nine-length success.
The winner holds an Arkle Trophy entry at Cheltenham but is more likely to go to Aintree.
Trainer Henry de Bromhead said: “That was brilliant. I was hoping he would improve on the slightly better ground and his jumping definitely improved.
“I thought he was good. Even the other horse (Yaha Fizz) taking him on a bit did him no harm for experience.
“I think he’s entitled to go to Aintree. Sizing Granite won this last year, beating Dysios. I think the fast track there will suit him.
“I’m delighted for the Brookhouses. He’s an exciting horse. He’s got a lot of flair and for me he’s very exciting.
“It looked like Andrew was trying to slow him down the whole way until he jumped the last and then he got going again.
“It was tacky ground and I think he’ll be even better on better ground. It was a lovely bit of experience and that’s what we wanted to do.”
When asked to compare him to stablemate Sizing John, who was second to Arkle favourite Douvan at Christmas, De Bromhead said: “He (Alisier D’Irlande) doesn’t gallop at home as there would be nothing left of him. We keep it for the races.
“They’ve never been near each other.”
I’m All You Need was subsequently disqualified from second after his rider failed to draw the correct weight, promoting Dysios to the runner-up spot.
Colms Dream got his season back on track with victory in the TRI Equestrian Handicap Chase.
Karl Thornton’s seven-year-old won three successive races over fences in the space of a month earlier in the campaign, but lined up at Leopardstown having fallen on his last two starts at Down Royal and Musselburgh respectively.
Leading conditional jockey Donagh Meyler produced the 12-1 shot to challenge last month’s course scorer The Mooch leaving the back straight and he powered clear from the final fence for a six-and-a-half-length success.
Thornton said: “He’s done it well and he seems to be improving all the time. In Musselburgh he just got geed up and it was just one of those things.
“Jumping is his biggest asset and when we school him at home nothing can jump with him.
“He had to improve after winning his three races as the handicapper put him up plenty, but we thought he had coming up to Christmas. Going to Musselburgh I thought he was a certainty.
“I had looked at the handicap chase at Cheltenham on the Tuesday, but he’s not a horses that would carry a lot of weight and he’d nearly be top-weight in that.
“We’ll look at Fairyhouse and Punchestown with him and try to get into a better race with a light weight.”