It's Murphy's Law as Burke and Power land Thyestes
A year after running into the monster that was Djakadam, My Murphy rallied gamely in the hands of Robbie Power to secure a raucously- received Goffs Thyestes Chase victory at odds of 16/1 for Liam Burke.
The triumph capped a lucrative five days for Power, whose Leopardstown double on Sunday included Henry Higgins' rout in the €100,000 Coral Hurdle. Gowran Park's prestigious handicap offered the same winner's prize of €60,000, so this was a welcome return to the big time for Burke, a doyen of the Munster racing scene.
Burke enjoyed famous wins in the 2007 Galway Plate with Sir Frederick and in the 2008 Arkle Chase at Leopardstown with Thyne Again.
Long recognised as one of the most skilled producers of point-to-point stock in the country - Gigginstown Stud's Willie Mullins-trained Nambour is one of his latest graduates - he is one of the many handlers who have felt the pinch as the industry has continued to contract over the past 10 years.
As such, in going one better than 2015 in the deep ground, My Murphy was providing the popular widower with a return to the spotlight that his son Jonathan is increasingly hogging from the saddle. "As a young lad, this was always a race I wanted to win," an elated Burke revealed. "I remember listening to it on the radio in school when The Godfather won it (in 1974). That's a long time ago now, so this is a win that has pleased me more than any other.
"It's hard to do it nowadays, but this fellow was entitled to win a big race."
My Murphy had been pulled up in the Paddy Power Chase, and Burke, who was bringing the distinctive Thyestes trophy back to Co Cork for a fourth time since 2008, admitted that left him second guessing a little.
"I very nearly didn't run him because he ran so badly the last day," he explained. "In the last couple of days, though, he seemed well, and it was all down to the ride Robbie gave him.
"My Murphy has to be up there. He missed the start at Leopardstown, and he doesn't travel in amongst horses.
"He got a fall at Navan once and got kicked in the head. That frightened him, so he likes his space. The Leopardstown race was over at the first; the very same thing happened Colm Murphy's horse (Empire Of Dirt) that won on Sunday. He never got into it."
Likewise, Empire Of Dirt's success constituted a satisfying return from the doldrums for Murphy. My Murphy's owner, Hans Joerg Zindel, is a native of Liechtenstein. He has a property in Lismore but was away in South America for this. He might yet get the chance to see his 10-year-old vie for another big pot, as a second stab at the Irish Grand National is now on the cards, via Fairyhouse's Bobbyjo Chase.
"It's ironic," Power reflected after denying favourite Mala Beach by just over a length, "because I was second in Sunday's big race last year as well, so it's nice to win both this time. I did my apprenticeship down the road from here with Paddy Mullins, so this is huge - Thyestes day is always special."
Alpha Des Obeaux ended a frustrating sequence of five seconds in six completed starts by grinding out victory in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle. On his other start in that time, Mouse Morris's 13/8 favourite had fallen at the last flight at Aintree in the spring when still in contention, so he was overdue a rub of the green.
Bryan Cooper eased the Gigginstown Stud-owned six-year-old to the front turning in, and they drew 11 lengths clear of Welsh raider At Fishers Cross to plunder the €25,500 winner's purse for a fourth tine since 2010 for the Gigginstown outfit.
Cooper completed a brace for himself and a treble for Mullins by guiding Tell Us More home at odds-on in the beginners' chase, the champion trainer having combined with Ruby Walsh to take the opening two races with Footpad and Au Quart De Tour.
Footpad will tackle the Grade One Gain Spring Juveniles' Hurdle at Leopardstown after atoning for defeat at the Foxrock venue last time in the manner that odds of 1/10 suggested he should in the opening conditions hurdle.
Au Quart De Tour (1/1) was also making amends in the maiden hurdle, having fallen at the last flight with the race at his mercy at Fairyhouse. "I thought he could be a Triumph horse before he got beaten the last day and I still do now," Mullins said of Footpad.
Au Quart De Tour's win was apparently Walsh's 2,500th winner, a landmark tally that includes his international successes in places like France, Australia and Japan.
Mullins was denied a four-timer in the bumper as another French-bred, Avenir D'un Vie, came off second best to New To This Town (3/1) which triumphed for the mother and daughter team of Jessica and Kate Harrington.