Royal Kahala beats quality field to take Mares Hurdle at Fairyhouse
Peter Fahey’s charge cut from 20-1 to 8-1 for Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham
Kevin Sexton onboard Royal Kahala on his way to winning at Fairyhouse. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Royal Kahala displayed a potent turn of foot as she notched a Fairyhouse hat-trick with victory in the Wishing Everyone A Healthy 2021 Mares Hurdle.
A quality field went to post including Delvino, Hook Up and Razzle Dazzle Love, but none of them had an answer to the impressive winner.
Already successful in a bumper and a maiden hurdle at the track, Kevin Sexton took the brave route down the inner throughout on Peter Fahey’s charge.
Delvino was the first of the market leaders beaten with her jumping letting her down on numerous occasions, while Hook Up looked menacing going to the second-last.
Razzle Dazzle Love had led throughout, but had shown a tendency to jump left so Sexton took a gamble to go up her inside and it narrowly paid off, although she still had ground to make on on Hook Up running to the last.
Hook Up met it on the wrong stride, losing momentum, but the way the winner picked up suggested it made little difference, as the 3-1 chance shot five lengths clear.
Paddy Power cut Royal Kahala to 8-1 from 20s for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
“To be honest I was fairly confident in her coming into the race,” said Fahey.
“I know it was a hot race, but the way she won the last two she found loads in the closing stages.
“She did it again today and she’s a very nice filly, we are lucky to have her.
“When I was looking at this race I was thinking it would be an easy target, but when the entries came out it was stiff enough competition.
“I’d say the plan will be to come back here for the Solerina Hurdle at the end of the month. She did it well today and fingers crossed everything goes all right and she comes back here.
“I liked how much she picked up from the back of the last. She stays well and Kevin said she was strong at the line. A fast-run race will suit her even better.”
Flanking Maneuver backed up a promising effort on his hurdling debut to win the Happy New Year From All At Fairyhouse Maiden Hurdle in the style of a good horse.
A wide-margin bumper scorer, he had chased home a nice type in Percy Warner last time out and Sean Flanagan always looked confident on this occasion.
The 5-4 favourite took a lead into the straight and did not come off the bridle in beating Folcano by six lengths to give Noel Meade, who celebrated a 70th birthday success 24 hours earlier, another winner.
“He’s done it really well and the step up in trip was obviously a big help to him,” said Flanagan.
“His bumper form was quite classy and he always showed a good bit at home. I’m delighted that he’s brought it forward today.
“I’d say the horse that beat us the first day was quite smart, too. I think the step up in trip today really benefited him.”
Agusta Gold gained a deserved success in the John & Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase.
The Mags Mullins-trained eight-year-old has built up an extraordinarily consistent record over the years, having only finished out of the first three once in 18 outings before this, when fourth on her hurdling debut.
However, she had only managed to get her head in front on four occasions, which for a mare with her ability did not really do her justice.
Sent off 10-1 on her first run of the season against some smart opposition despite the late defection of Shattered Love, Danny Mullins was happy to take a lead from Cabaret Queen.
Paul Townend was stalking on odds-on favourite Salsaretta, but she was treading water before the turn into the straight.
As Cabaret Queen gave way Moyhenna was the big danger and possibly got in front after the last, but Agusta Gold dug deep to win by half a length to claim the Grade Three feature.
Paddy Power introduced the first two into the betting at 20-1 for the new mares’ chase at Cheltenham.
Dot Love is due to hand over the licence to her assistant Ciaran Murphy in the coming days — and after a winner on Saturday she landed the Happy Retirement Dot Love Ladies Handicap Hurdle with Flindt.
“I thought yesterday was the highlight, but they came through for me. I never ever thought it would happen again today, it’s a fairytale,” said Love.
“It’s special for it to happen here and Peter Roe (general manager) was very good to name the race after me, that was moving.
“Having had the Irish National winner here as well it’s a lovely way to finish.”
There was plenty of chatter about Gordon Elliott’s €470,000 purchase Ginto ahead of the closing bumper, but he had no answer to Willie Mullins’ Whatdeawant (9-4) who beat the favourite by two and a half lengths to earn a 33-1 quote for Cheltenham.
Mullins said: “I’d imagine he’ll go for a winners or we could go straight to Cheltenham with him. Patrick (Mullins) was very happy with his performance.”