Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 26 February 2017

Hanlon delight after Western Leader blazes trail to secure Thurles spoils

Western Leader, with Conor O'Farrell up, jumps the last on the way to victory at Thurles yesterday
Western Leader, with Conor O'Farrell up, jumps the last on the way to victory at Thurles yesterday

Western Leader continued his rise through the ranks with a hugely impressive success in the Grade Two Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle at Thurles yesterday.

The 4/1 chance was sent straight to the head of affairs by Conor O'Farrell and had many of his rivals in trouble as the pace increased heading down the back straight.

Premier Victory was his nearest pursuer turning for home but Western Leader soon engaged overdrive and after safely negotiating the final flight, John Hanlon's charge was ridden out to score by 12 lengths.

Hanlon clearly rates the winner highly and said: "That's three Grade Twos now in six weeks (two for Luska Lad) so we're not going too bad. He was very good there and he'll probably now go to Aintree for the two-and-a-half or three-miler.

"He'd stay forever. He'd handle better ground too and I always thought he was better than Luska Lad. He'll go chasing next season. Conor said when he came in that we didn't see how good he was yet and he is right."

The well-backed Misala completed a double for Hanlon with a hard-fought success in the Killinan Maiden Hurdle under Davy Russell.

The 5/4 favourite just edged out Good Time Donie on the run-in to prevail by a neck.

Dynamic Approach, backed down to 5/1 from 7/1, landed the Ladbrokes Cheltenham Bumper Series Flat Race by two-and-a-half lengths from Under The Arch.

Irish Independent

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