Dogora shows steel at Gowran
WILLIE Mullins and Ruby Walsh began the Thyestes meeting at Gowran in the best possible way with a victory for Dogora in the Nugent Spirit 25 Horsebox Hurdle.
The four-year-old prevailed in a titanic battle with Sabrina Harty's Dalasiri, who landed a monster gamble last time out.
The lead changed hands a few times in the straight and the 2-5 favourite was made to pull out all the stops.
Dogora had won his only previous start for Mullins and showed a good attitude for one with so little experience to cross the line a head in front.
Mullins said: "It was hard work and both horses seemed to idle.
"Dalasiri seemed to idle first and then our lad. When they both drifted apart they seemed to idle.
"Our fellow is really a chaser.
"They are two nice horses. I'd prefer to keep him for Fairyhouse but he'll get an entry for the Fred Winter.
"Today is the first time he's jumped (traditional) Irish hurdles."
Curvacious (11-1) benefited from a positive ride from David Splaine in the Four Star Langton House Hotel Maiden Hurdle.
Splaine grasped the nettle some way out and kicked on down the back straight.
The 11-1 chance handled the testing ground well and although the even-money favourite Bell Weir eventually made progress from the rear into second, the winner had flown and won by eight and a half lengths.
The Ed Stanners-trained mare had been placed in a couple of bumpers and was fourth on her hurdling debut at Limerick last month.
Tony McCoy's mount Time Please travelled well until the final two furlongs when the going got tough and he was allowed to coast home in his own time.
Stanners said: "She's a big strapping mare and will go handicapping now. She didn't get home on worse ground at Limerick."
Tony Martin's Bog Warrior continued his impressive run of form since reverting to timber with a smooth success in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle.
A Grade One-winning novice chaser last season, a couple of falls in that sphere saw him lose his confidence.
Wins at Fairyhouse and Punchestown had helped rebuild that, however, and Davy Russell set out to make all on the 8-11 favourite.
Walsh tracked him on Zaidpour but never looked like quite getting to the leader, except when Bog Warrior went left at the final flight.
For a few brief moments Walsh sensed he had a chance but Bog Warrior soon got going again to win by three and a quarter lengths.
Paddy Power cut him to 10-1 from 12s for the World Hurdle.
Russell told At The Races: "He did what we thought he'd do.
"He was a bit in-and-out with his jumping over fences but he's a much easier horse to ride now.
"He retains all his ability and he's just a high-class horse really.
"He has such a huge stride it is pointless trying to control that and it's very hard to know how fast you are going when you are in front, and when he meets a hurdle right he jumps very well.
"Obviously the World Hurdle is an option, the others are the Ryanair and the Gold Cup. He does jump very well but at that sort of level his jumping might suffer in the hustle and bustle.
"With Big Buck's out everyone is tempted by the World Hurdle and there's no doubt he's good enough.
" Cheltenham good ground is very safe and that is probably the place to try it."
Martin said: "He's a very good horse.
"It was his first time at three miles but I was confident enough he would get it. He gets any trip and has a bit of class.
"I wanted to get today out of the way and things are in the balance as regards Cheltenham. The lads (Gigginstown) have so many horses so we'll see how things pan out.
"He jumped his hurdles a bit big the last day but came down today and he's there as a hurdler or a chaser when we want him.
"I shouldn't have run him after he fell at Naas last year and he wasn't fully ready when he fell up the north (Down Royal) but it's easy to be wise after the event.
"The World Hurdle could maybe be a bit too good for him but the ground is also all important and I wouldn't like to see him run on ground too fast."
Rory Anna was a good winner of the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.
John Walsh's top weight only ran at Naas last weekend when third to Tennis Cap and showed no ill effects from those exertions.
Declan Bates made a positive move some way out on the 12-1 chance and she held Barneys Honour at bay by four and a half lengths.