O'Brien's speedy Slowmotion leaves rivals toiling
Fresh from Ivanovich Gorbatov's Triumph Hurdle rout, Aidan and Joseph O'Brien unearthed another serious juvenile hurdling prospect at Fairyhouse in Slowmotion.
O'Brien Jnr, who oversees his father's jumps team at their home place on Carriganog Hill in County Kilkenny, is pencilled in to sit the Turf Club trainers' course in May.
By then, he might have a second Grade One winner in his care.
With Ivanovich Gorbatov due to go to Aintree for the Anniversary Novices' Hurdle, Slowmotion could be bound for the equivalent event at Punchestown on April 30.
The smart daughter of Soldier Of Fortune was thwarted on her Irish bow at Limerick two weeks ago, but she made amends here by cruising up in the Grade Two Rea Grimes Property Consultants Hurdle.
JP McManus's 2/1 favourite lived up to her name, as she seemed to move in slow motion for Barry Geraghty relative to the rest en route to drawing seven lengths and more clear of floundering rivals.
"She hadn't run for a while and she was a bit fresh the last day, so we might have left her a little short," O'Brien mused of Slowmotion's Limerick defeat.
"She settled and jumped well here and likes to get her toe in, so she is a lovely filly going forward. Ivanovich Gorbatov seems to have come out of Cheltenham well, so he will go to Aintree all being well.
"We'll see how this filly comes out of this, but the Punchestown race would be the obvious target for her."
McManus and Geraghty doubled up when Sutton Place rallied gamely after landing awkwardly over the final flight to overhaul Royal Caviar in the Rathbarry and Glenview Studs Novices' Hurdle.
The error might have been Sutton Place's undoing as Ruby Walsh seized the lead on Royal Caviar, but the 13/8 market leader was clearly the superior horse in the Grade Two.
Geraghty calmly gathered together his mount and they re-established their authority to score for a third time in four starts by half a length, consigning Royal Caviar to the runner-up berth for a second time in succession.
"He is still a baby and very green, so he must be a nice horse to win, as he did everything to get beaten," Gordon Elliott said of Sutton Place.
"He might have enough done for the season and will come on a ton for a summer at grass - I'd imagine he will go chasing next season."
Geraghty and McManus were denied a treble with Marchese Marconi in the Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle, as siblings Dan and Harry Skelton combined to plunder the first of two wins on the card for the cross-channel raiders with 11/4 shot Value At Risk.
Kerry Lee had got the meeting off to a flying start for the British when Kylemore Lough plundered the Ryanair Gold Cup on Sunday and Emily Gray took their running tally to three in yesterday's mares' chase.
Kim Bailey missed his first Irish winner due to his flight from Birmingham being delayed. His jockey David Bass also missed out, but Jonathan Burke deputised brilliantly on the evens favourite.
"I've only just got in the gate myself," panted an elated John Perriss in the winners' enclosure.
Perriss had been leasing the classy mare from Timmy Hyde and she will now retire to Hyde's Camas Park Stud in Cashel with a valuable Grade Three success to her name.
On a sun-kissed day in the Royal County, attendance fell slightly on 2015 to 15,804.
Punters shaded the exchanges and the bookmakers' take dropped from €890,418 to €825,747.