Nearly Nama'd lands big prize for McManus
Sandra Hughes teamed up with Barry Geraghty to take the featured Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase with Nearly Nama'd at a cold, but sun-kissed Fairyhouse.
In landing the two-mile showpiece sponsored by the Underwriting Exchange, the JP McManus-owned gelding claimed his second successive decent pot at the Co Meath venue.
Not seen since his course and distance victory six weeks earlier, the 4/1 second favourite took command at the final fence to capture the €60,000 first prize after Baily Green had made the running closely followed by Draycott Place close up until the third-last.
At this point the winner's stablemate, Guitar Pete made his bid for glory but was challenged up the straight by Nearly Nama'd which travelled strongly going to the last.
Asserting on the run-in, Nearly Nama'd went on to score by four-and-a half lengths from Mozoltov, which stayed on to overtake Guitar Pete by a length for the second spot.
"He's a lot stronger than last year and Barry said he noticed a big difference in him from the last time he rode him," Hughes said.
"He needs that soft ground. He wasn't handling the ground in the summer so we let him off."
The win completed an 11/1 double for Geraghty who had struck earlier aboard Myztique which took the mares' maiden hurdle by seven-and-a half lengths for Gordon Elliott, who actually went one better than the jockey by helping himself to a short-priced treble.
The Co Meath handler landed the opening leg of his hat-trick courtesy of Tocororo (13/8) which Bryan Cooper - re-routed from Tramore's abandoned card - drove four lengths clear of evens favourite Swamp Fox.
"She's a grand filly. I don't know how good a race it was, but she seemed to like the soft ground," said Elliott.
"We'll try and find a winners' race for her. I'd say she'll stay further as she looked in trouble turning in, but ended up winning nicely."
Elliott had to wait until the finale for his third winner as 4/9 hotpot Sutton Place also gave owner McManus a treble on the day when cruising clear by four-and-three-quarter lengths in the bumper under upcoming 7lb-claimer Jonathan Moore.
The other McManus winner came in the novice chase over two-and-a-half miles as Mark Walsh steered the Colm Murphy-trained 7/2 second favourite Marlbrook to a three-and-a-half-length victory from Balnagon Boy.
"It's nice to get that out of the way. He's been an unlucky horse and has fallen a few times," reflected McManus's racing manager Frank Berry. "It was a bit of a slog, but he kept going grand. It's nice to see him back in good form again."
Champion trainer Willie Mullins had to be content with just one visit to the winner's enclosure, and it was a fortunate success as McKinley capitalised on the fourth-last fall of leader Alisier D'Irlande to comfortably open his account over fences in the beginners chase over an extended two miles.
The 6/4 favourite was left in front a long way out but was never in real danger and went on to go one better than on his chasing debut as he beat Missyspet by four-and-a-half lengths, completing a double for Cooper.
Mullins' brother, Tony, was also on the mark as Shanaak (7/4 favourite) was prominent throughout under the trainer's son, Danny, before seeing off Court Challenge by five lengths in the handicap hurdle over two-and-a-half miles.