Dalton nets prize catch with Sword Fish
Circumstances conspired favourably for Ben Dalton at Mallow racecourse yesterday, with the Irish Grand National-winning jockey stepping in for the injured Alan Crowe to plunder a facile victory in the Paddy Power-sponsored Cork equivalent on JP McManus' Sword Fish.
Dalton, who enjoyed a shock 50/1 triumph in the Fairyhouse contest on Dot Love's Liberty Counsel in April, had been due to ride Prosperity Square for his boss Conor O'Dwyer, but became available when that one was scratched yesterday morning.
The 21-year-old switched to the Christy Roche-trained Sword Fish, after Crowe failed to recover in time following a fall at Clonmel on Thursday.
Dalton's three-pound claim meant that the 8/1 shot, whose only previous chase win came at the same Easter fixture, carried just 9st 7lb.
Having raced close to the pace in the €50,000 feature, the partnership drew readily clear of the favourite Unoccupied from three out to secure another valuable staying chase for McManus, who has already enjoyed success in this season's Galway Plate and Munster and Midlands Nationals.
"I feel sorry for Alan," Dalton admitted afterwards, "but its great to win another race like that."
McManus' racing manager Frank Berry added of Sword Fish: "The trip and ground suited, and Ben gave him a great ride. There is no plan now – today was the only plan!"
Horses sporting the similarly ubiquitous Gigginstown House Stud silks were prevalent early on the card, with Davy Russell initiating a short-priced double on Charlie Swan's The Game Changer (10/3 into 11/8 fav) in the two-mile maiden hurdle.
In the half-mile longer edition, the champion enjoyed an exceptionally easy time of things aboard the odds-on Azorian.
Forced to make much of his own running, Eoin Griffin's exciting five-year-old ran green in front, yet still drew 21 lengths clear for an impressive hurdle debut in testing going.
"I'm just relieved to get that out of the way, because I hold him in high regard," Griffin admitted.
"We'll stick to that sort of trip or further with him now. He might go for the Monksfield Novice Hurdle at Navan in three weeks."
Lots Of Memories took the Grade Three three-mile hurdle at his leisure, coming home with 10 lengths to spare despite running around at his hurdles in the straight.
Shane Butler gave the well-backed 7/4 shot his head with a circuit to run after he raced keenly early on, and the partnership never looked like being beaten thereafter.
The progressive winner is trained in Kildare by restricted licence-holder Paul Fahey, who doubles as Willie Mullins' farrier but was absent in America.
Henry de Bromhead's Sizing Rio secured the Grade Three novice chase with similar authority under Andrew Lynch, though the 13/8 favourite's task was simplified by some significant non-runners.
Sullane Chief (16/1) turned the handicap hurdle into a procession for Waterford handler Pat O'Connor and seven-pound claimer Conor Walsh, with the bumper going to Mags Mullins' easy-to-back 7/2 shot Princess Leya in equally emphatic fashion for Declan Lavery.