Muirhead a class apart for Carberry
MUIRHEAD benefited from a typically bold Paul Carberry steer to record an emphatic victory in the Munster National at Limerick yesterday.
The Ladbrokes.com-sponsored chase got under way with a bruising melee that saw Glenstal Abbey crash out, taking two others with him at the first fence, reducing the field to 12.
Carberry just about navigated his way through the carnage and rode a supremely confident race thereafter on the Noel Meade-trained gelding.
A Grade One-winning novice hurdler four years ago, Muirhead, which was returned at 10/1, was contesting a handicap and three miles for the first time in the €48,000 showpiece.
When Davy Russell crept up the inside of long-time leader Casey Top on the well-supported Bideford Legend as the field turned for home, favourite backers looked poised to collect, but Carberry had his every move covered.
He eased Muirhead into a narrow lead approaching the final fence and the eight-year-old cruised home by a length and three quarters on just his fourth chasing start, with the Ruby Walsh-ridden Uncle Junior 12 lengths back in third.
Following a Fairyhouse treble on Saturday, it was a fine end to the weekend for Carberry and Meade.
"After he got through all the fallen horses at the first, I thought his luck might be in today," Meade, who was winning the race for the second time, reflected. "He jumped great after that, and he has very little mileage over fences. After he won the Royal Bond, he ran in very good Grade Ones and it kind of took its toll on him.
"He wouldn't like real heavy ground, so it's not out of the question that he could go to England next, maybe for the Hennessy Gold Cup."
The Grade Three Chase saw the Welsh gain another triumph over Irish rivals when Evan Williams saddled West With The Wind to deny the odds-on favourite Loosen My Load. Under Tipperary native Paul Moloney, the raider won by just over five length.
Earlier, Ted and Ruby Walsh combined with Royal Reveille to land what was a weak renewal of the Grade Three Greenmount Park Novice Hurdle. Just five lined up for the €17,875 contest, and the Barry Connell-owned gelding was sent off the 4/6 favourite to win for a fourth time in five starts.
The former champion jockey made all on the six-year-old before sluicing up by 12 lengths from Resolute Bay.
"He did it well," the winning trainer said, "and he was entitled to win like that if the handicapper was right, as he is 10lbs higher than Resolute Bay. I didn't think he'd get an opportunity to win a race like this so I'm not sure where he'll go next thought there is a similar race at Cork in a few weeks."
In the Oakbruce Properties Handicap Hurdle, Boland's Corner (16/1) was fortunate to survive a collision with a running rail before scoring under David Splaine.
Trained in Kinsale by Ruaidhri Tierney, Boland's Corner was in the process of stretching his lead after jumping the last, but his seven-pound claiming rider -- hard at work with his head down -- nearly got unshipped when he failed to spot the protruding rail.
Splaine defied gravity to cling on, though, and the partnership went on to win y by eight lengths.
In the beginners' chase, Barry Geraghty completed a double when False Economy (8/1) collected for Michael Hourigan after the market leader Far Away So Close fell two out.
While Sailors Warn had earlier justified odds of 4/7 for Geraghty, it was all still to play for when Far Away So Close departed.
At the Curragh, Connell's colours were also carried to victory by the John Oxx-trained Minsk in the Hacketts Bookmakers Cesarewitch.
The three-year-old relished the step up to two miles as he cruised into the lead a furlong out under 5lb claimer Sam James to score by five and a half lengths from Cry For The Moon.
Oxx completed a treble thanks to wins for juveniles Call To Battle and Atlantic Swing while Aidan O'Brien's Homecoming Queen captured the Listed contest over a mile in the hands of son Joseph.