The year may yet be young, but 2013 will struggle to throw up another ride quite so sublime as Paul Carberry's steer on Monbeg Dude in the Welsh National.
By now, Carberry's maverick ability to execute hold-up tactics with audacious precision is accepted almost as routine, so it takes something incredibly special for him to receive the sort of acclaim that he has done in the wake of his 10/1 Chepstow triumph.
But for Ruby Walsh's Leopardstown heroics last Friday week, Carberry's mind-bogglingly composed turn on Monksland might have yielded similar credit. This time, the stage was his.
A month shy of his 39th birthday, Carberry settled Monbeg Dude stone-last of the 17 runners, his unmistakable perch as distinguishable as it was when his nonchalant talent first emerged more than 20 years ago.
With a circuit to run, he began steadily picking off his rivals one by one, a feat that required some conviction, given that his quirky mount fenced woefully. It was clear at all times, however, that Monbeg Dude's engine was purring along nicely and Carberry made full and exquisite use of Chepstow's yawning straight to collar AP McCoy on the favourite Teaforthree after the last.
After more than three-and-a-half miles in gruelling conditions, he finally justified his rider's confidence to prevail by a half-length. If Carberry's role was a thing of beauty, credit too must go to the trainer Michael Scudamore for securing his services.
Jamie Moore, who excelled when winning on Monbeg Dude at Cheltenham in November, opted to go to Sandown on Saturday and, on the suggestion of English rugby international James Simpson-Daniel – co-owner with fellow rugby stars Nicky Robinson and Mike Tindall and Scudamore – a call was put in to Carberry.
With no ties at Cork, the two-time champion said he would make the journey if they paid his plane fare.
The owners happily agreed to that modest request, teeing up a famous victory in a prestigious event that the trainer's grandfather and namesake won on Creeola in 1957 and which his father Peter won four times, latterly on Carvill's Hill in 1991.
Bred in Tipperary by Hilary O'Connor, Monbeg Dude won a Nenagh point-to-point on its January 2010 debut for owner Eamonn Doyle and trainer Colin Bowe, both Wexford men. He got into the Brightwells sale at Cheltenham six days later on a wild-card entry and Tindall bought him for £12,000. When you factor in Saturday's £51,255 winnings, Monbeg Dude's earnings now stand at £85,000.
Jadanli, the only Irish runner in the big race, pulled up, but the Model County was also in the news at Lingfield where Farmleigh House, twice successful at Dundalk late last year, completed a hat-trick under Niall McCullagh in a six-furlong handicap.
A first British runner for Enniscorthy's Willie Martin, the 5/2 favourite defied a mark of 100 to prevail by a neck for its fifth win since being bought for less than €1,000 at Goresbridge in July 2011. "I've been training for 30 years and this is the first horse I've had rated 100," said Martin, who also owns the six-year-old that has now earned €56,000 in prize money.
Gamble on Dalasiri comes off in style
racegoers at Cork on Saturday were treated to one of the gambles of the season which came off in spectacular fashion for those lucky enoughto be in the know.
In the juvenile hurdle, the Sabrina Harty-trained Dalasiri landed a rare old punt in the hands of Andrew Lynch. With no perceptible market move all morning, the Dylan Thomas grey was backed at as big as 50/1 on-course and his price plummeted all the way into an SP of 9/2.
There's also plenty anecdotal evidence of bookie shops in the Kildare area being visited by a couple of shrewd punters who backed the gelding at fancy prices shortly before the off.
Dalasiri, beaten 25 lengths on his Leopardstown bow over Christmas, duly obliged with a bit to spare and Harty subsequently confirmed that "a few of my cousins backed him."
Confident that "he'd come on loads for the run at Leopardstown," the Curragh trainer's biggest achievement was surely keeping the whole thing under wraps until so close to the off, something rarely achieved since the advent of betting exchanges.
Golantilla looks real star in the making
The rest of Saturday's domestic activity at the Mallow track threw up some unusual highlights. In the opening conditions hurdle, Paul Townend got a fine tune out of Blackstairmountain to initiate a short-priced treble for Willie Mullins, who suggested a tilt at Japan's Nakayama Grand Jump may be on the cards in April.
However, it was less high-profile stables that really stole the show. In the mares' hurdle, Backinthere (10/1) also left behind an uninspiring festive outing to give Conna handler Eamonn Gallagher his second track winner under Adrian Heskin, before Sean O'Brien doubled his tally for the season with a 24/1 brace courtesy of Wilde Wit Pleasure (8/1) and the well-backed 7/4 favourite Golantilla in the bumper. Based in the Cork village of Kilworth, O'Brien has long been recognised as a shrewd operator, but never can his judgement have been on the line to the extent it was here.
Having saddled Golantilla to justify favouritism by hosing up on its point-to-point debut in December, he brought the five-year-old, which he owns and bred himself, to Brightwells sale in Cheltenham five days later, similar to Monbeg Dude in 2010. Whereas the latter was easily bought, a bid of what O'Brien describes as a "genuine £180,000" failed to separate him from his horse.
"We wouldn't accept anything less," O'Brien said of a £200,000 reserve after watching Golantilla storm 13 lengths clear on Saturday. "There have been offers since, but he's not so cheap now. This horse is an absolute machine. The Champion Bumper is the aim and always has been."
Rebel County riders
to the fore in Britain
Wins for Paul Townend, Davy Russell, Adrian Heskin, Davy Condon and Ciaran Fennessy ensured that six of the seven races at Cork went to locally-born riders and it was also a good day for natives of the Rebel County on the other side of the Irish Sea.
Youghal's Denis O'Regan partnered his second Grade One winner of the campaign when Jeremy Scott's Ruacana took Chepstow's Finale Hurdle.
At Sandown, Dunmanway's Gavin Sheehan continued his steady ascent up the ranks with a facile win on Charlie Mann's Lord Of House, while Inishannon's Aidan Coleman enjoyed a similarly easy chase victory on Katenko for Venetia Williams.
Meanwhile, William's Wishes, which stretched its unbeaten run to five under New Inn's Paul Moloney at Sandown, could have its next start at Fairyhouse later this month.
6 Years since Birr handler Gerry Hayes went without a winner prior to the well-backed Thepartysover scoring at Naas yesterday.
@motherwayc – Rode my 200th point-to-point winner today in Tinahely. Nice landmark to reach. #happydays
– Colin Motherway clocks up his second career century on debutant Kilcullen Article, which is owned by the Monbeg Doyles that produced Monbeg Dude.