Hobson proves good choice for Mullins
The scales in the battle for the jump trainers championship remains tipped in favour of Gordon Elliott, but reigning title-holder Willie Mullins is not going down without a fight and the Closutton maestro walked away with the biggest purse on the Fairyhouse card yesterday.
The Grade A Glascarn Handicap Hurdle over two miles was the feature event, which the Mullins-trained Thomas Hobson claimed at the expense of Elliott's Veinard.
Ruby Walsh was always travelling well just off the pace on the former John Gosden-trained inmate and decided to go for home with four hurdles remaining. Thomas Hobson (7/1) duly responded to his rider's urgings and while several of his rivals threatened to make a race of it up the home straight, none could mount a serious challenge and it was left to Veinard to fill the runner-up spot three lengths in arrears.
"I think he wants a longer trip," said Mullins. "I took a chance running him for the prize-money and it paid off. I'd imagine he'll take his chance in the nice two-and-a-half mile handicap at Punchestown. "I'd be looking at a Flat career for him during the summer as well.
"We've never run him on the Flat and I think he'll be alright over a trip on the Flat as well."
Elliott actually left the track with more winners than his title rival as the Cullentra handler send out a first-and-last-race double - both winners in the colours of Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House operation.
The trainer had two in the opening beginners chase, with O'Leary's retained rider Bryan Cooper on Delegate, but this 12/1 shot never got competitive and it was the better fancied stablemate Potters Point (4/1) which took the spoils in the hands of Jack Kennedy.
Formerly trained by Colin Bowe, this former 'pointer' jumped well in the main and while Jessica Harrington's Flaviana threw down a strong challenge, Potters Point kept on well to prevail by a half-length.
The second of Elliot's winners came in the bumper as Cracking Smart justified 13/8 favouritism in impressive fashion as the French recurit galloped 13 lengths clear of Noel Meade's Narcissistic. Winning jockey Jamie Codd is now three clear of Patrick Mullins in the race for the amateur rider's title.
There was a shock in the Ladies Grand National as Aine O'Connor kept her composure aboard the Jimmy Finn-trained Coldstonesober. The 33/1 benefitted from the falls of Whatareudoingtome and Cecil Corbett at he second last to beat Mtada Supreme by five lengths.