Fitz foiled on comeback
Published 02/08/2015 | 19:02
Rebel Fitz had to make do with the runner-up spot on his return to action as Cailin Annamh took gold in the At The Races Chase.
Despite having been off the track since last October, the Mick Winters-trained Rebel Fitz was unsurprisingly all the rage to make a successful comeback as the 9-10 favourite.
For much of the two-and-three-quarter-mile journey everything appeared to be going to plan, with the 18-time winner showing all of his old exuberance and it looked a case of how far he would win by when he began to stretch clear from the second last.
However, the lack of a recent run began to tell up the punishing hill and Cailin Annamh, who had earlier made the running, came back at the market leader and got up by two and three-quarter lengths.
Colour Squadron was back in third.
Winning trainer Jessica Harrington said: "She had a wind operation and that's why she was so long coming back. I put the tongue-tie back on today and a pair of blinkers as she was not doing a thing in Killarney.
"She made just one mistake at the open ditch and it was a mistake. It was a brilliant ride by Robbie (Power) and I knew she would stay going on the run-in.
"I don't know what the handicapper will do to her."
Winters was not too disappointed with the effort of the runner-up.
He said: "It was a super run and he jumped like a buck. It's a long run up the hill and the lack of a run just told on him.
"The plan is the Slan Abhaile (at Listowel), and he may go for the Cesarewitch after that."
Dollar And Dream provided Tony Martin with another Galway winner in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.
Having finished third in similar events at Tipperary and Limerick in the spring, the six-year-old was the 7-2 favourite for the opening contest on the final day of the week-long Festival at Ballybrit.
Leading conditional Shane Shortall was happy to play the waiting game and Dollar And Dream remained nearer last than first jumping the second flight from the finish. However, he began to motor before the home bend to move into contention and knuckled down well from the last to beat Afatcat by three and a half lengths.
Martin said: "He needs to be ridden with confidence. Shane was very good on him - that was a Ruby Walsh or Paul Carberry job.
"That's the track for him, going up the hill and they are coming back to him. On quicker ground they don't come back to you.
"He's a chaser in the making."
Martin made it six for the week when the heavily-backed Whatsforuwontgobyu (5-4 favourite) reeled in the enterprisingly-ridden Easter Spirit to claim the JPK Fencing Handicap.
Easter Spirit and Seamie Heffernan had kicked clear rounding the bend, but a confident Fran Berry - crowned leading Flat rider - was alive to the move and had no trouble cutting him down for a very easy eight-and-a-half-length success.
Martin said: "We've always thought he was a nice horse, but it has taken a while for the penny to drop.
"He's versatile and won his hurdle at Sligo. He's a dual-purpose horse and a nice prospect going forward."
Martin, who won the Galway Hurdle on Thursday with Quick Jack, added: "It's been brilliant, it was great to get off the mark on Thursday and add a few more."
Dermot Weld secured a fifth winner and top trainer honours on the points-based system as the long odds-on Almela came home in splendid isolation on her debut in the Trappers Inn European Breeders Fund Fillies Maiden.
Winning jockey Pat Smullen said: "This filly has got a bit of class, she has plenty of quality and she picked up very well.
"When the penny dropped she raced very professionally, it's not easy first time round here."
Willie Mullins ended the week how he started it as Fugi Mountain (5-4 favourite) made it eight over the seven days with a straightforward victory in the concluding Fr. Breen Memorial under son Patrick.
The result meant Mullins lost out by a single point to Weld in the trainers' battle, 57-56.