Cooper targets Aintree after Forpady records first win in three years
TOM CoOPER'S veteran chaser Forpadydeplasterer will have the Aintree Grand National as his big target after recording his first victory in over three years with a stylish performance in the Glen Chase at Thurles.
While without a victory since his Arkle Trophy success at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival, Cooper's 10-year-old has filled the runner-up spot on a number of occasions at the very highest level.
Sent off a 3/1 shot and faced with five rivals on his second attempt over three miles, Forpady was ridden patiently by Bryan Cooper but made eye-catching headway to take closer order rounding the home turn.
Snooze did his best out in front, but Forpadydeplasterer took over at the final fence and kicked clear to score by five and a half lengths.
Berties Dream just grabbed third spot from 2011 Grand National runner-up Oscar Time, which ran a perfectly satisfactory race on his first run in a year.
"That is a great relief after three and a half years without a win," Cooper said. "Things went all wrong for him at Cheltenham (last time out in the Paddy Power Gold Cup). He missed the first few fences and that was it. Paddy Brennan had the brains to pull him up as he seemed to lose all confidence.
"This was an ideal race for him, even though it was over three miles on heavy ground, which was a worry, but he got the job done.
"He will be trained for the Grand National now. He had to be placed in a three-mile race to get in it and that's it done now. He will have two more runs before Aintree."
The day also marked the official retirement of veteran jockey Ken Whelan, who made presentations to the winning connections of both divisions of the Ken Whelan Hangs Up His Boots Handicap Chase.
Philip Rothwell's Saoirse Dun (4/1 favourite) took the first division in the hands of Paul Townend, while the second was won by the Colin Bowe-trained 7/2 joint-favourite Whiskey And Red to complete a double for Cooper.
Most impressive winner of the day was the Willie Mullins-trained Marito, which gave Ruby Walsh an armchair ride in the two-and-a-quarter-mile beginners' chase.
The short-priced favourite hit the front before three out and eased clear for an 11-length victory. "He is not a big horse but he is very strong," said Mullins. "He jumped better the faster they were going."
Walsh and Mullins had to settle for runner-up spot in the staying event, as Charlie Swan's Make A Track (11/8) and Davy Russell proved too strong for their Vesper Bell.
The opening mares novice chase saw a surprise as 25/1 outsider Cnoc Seoda made all to beat the well-fancied Mae's Choice for the father and son team of Declan Queally Jnr and Snr.