Approach seals Mullins double
Apt Approach showed admirable battling qualities to see off Tranquil Sea to claim the featured Holden Plant Rentals Chase at Tramore yesterday for Willie Mullins.
With Ruby Walsh in action at Cheltenham and Paul Townend riding at Fairyhouse, it was left to David Casey to steer the nine-year-old to Listed success. Apt Approach was always travelling well towards the head of affairs and was helped when favourite Roi Du Mee lost all chance with a bad mistake half a mile out.
Turning for home, the Mullins runner looked in trouble as Tranquil Sea loomed alongside, but Edward O'Grady's charge found little and Apt Approach was driven out to win by just over five lengths.
Casey had only ridden the winner once before when they appeared to have a valuable race at the Punchestown Festival sewn up before falling at the last.
Apt Approach was completing a 47/1 double for trainer Mullins, whose nephew Emmet had earlier partnered Vast Consumption to victory in the handicap hurdle.
In-form jockey Philip Enright was another in double form -- landing the last two races aboard Beckwith Star for Henry de Bromhead in the two-mile beginners chase and Big Jemmy for John Joe Walsh in the handicap chase.
At Fairyhouse, Frisco Depot made a successful start to life over fences with a narrow victory after an exciting beginners' chase. Defying a 240-day lay-off in gritty fashion, Bryan Cooper delivered the Dessie Hughes-trained inmate between Banjaxed Girl and Dantes King at the last before holding off the fast-finishing Aitmatov by a neck.
Francis Flood's In Great Form recorded his second win at the track when proving an easy winner from Andrea's Answer in the Members Handicap Chase under an assured ride from Mark Walsh.
Paul Carberry enjoyed a double, with the local rider showing great determination aboard Gordon Elliott's Dont Back Down to hold favourite Lord Gale by a neck in the opening maiden hurdle.
Carberry completed his brace by giving Osirixamix a well-judged front-running ride to claim the Olympic & European Football Handicap Hurdle.
Tony Martin's 143-rated chaser was allowed to compete off a hurdles' perch of just 113 and made up for an unlucky final-fence fall at Cork by beating favourite Lastoftheleaders.
Christy Roche's Woodville Lady took the New Year Maiden Hurdle after Alan Crowe delivered the JP McManus-owned mare to beat Double Double, while 5/4 market leader The Westener Boy took the bumper for Mags Mullins.
Ruby Walsh left Cheltenham without a winner. Having failed to hit the mark with favourites Sonofvic and Oscargo, the Kill native then had to play second fiddle aboard Poungach to Barry Geraghty and Oscar Whisky. Nicky Henderson's odds-on favourite oozed class under Geraghty to stretch clear and he's now likely to head for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle in March.
Wexford native Alain Cawley enjoyed his biggest success since moving across the water when guiding Champion Court to a game success in the Grade 2 Dipper Novices Chase.