O'Connell breezes to hat-trick
RISING star Eddie O'Connell has leading claims to being the season's top conditional rider and emphasised just why with a brilliant 1,529/1 treble at Downpatrick yesterday.
The young rider's hat-trick -- the second of his career -- started with Breeze With Ease, which proved incredibly game in the Premier Bakeries Handicap Hurdle.
Clear after the last but soon joined and headed by Market Watcher, the game looked up for the six-year-old. But driven on by O'Connell, the 8/1 chance fought back and got his head in front right on the line to give Tyrone-based Jimmy Lambe his 125th career winner.
Lambe said: "He can be a tricky horse and missed the start a little today and then hit the front too early. However, he has always shown me ability at home and we'll aim him at something similar again next."
O'Connell (22) shone again with a fine waiting ride on Pat Flavin's 33/1 outsider Lake Return in the Britvic NI Beginners Chase.
Well detached in the early stages, O'Connell produced him to perfection just after the last and narrowly came out on top from Closesthingtocrazy in a desperate finish.
It turned into a red-letter day for O'Connell as he picked up a winning spare in the shape of the Ken Condon-trained Sebadee, which was an easy 4/1 winner of the Kerry Foods EBF Beginners Chase.
Wee Giant made the perfect start to life over obstacles with victory as the odds-on favourite in the opening maiden hurdle for Ruby Walsh.
The Willie Mullins-trained 5/6 jolly went after market rival Karkari following the last and reeled him in close home for a cosy five-length success under a confident Walsh.
Peter McCarthy, husband of winning owner Sandra, said: "Apart from the early mistake he jumped very well. We bought him originally thinking he was well handicapped on the Flat, but the plan was always to go hurdling."
Lets Go Sunshine (6/4) was another for favourite-backers in the Proctor & Gamble Maiden Hurdle. Amateur Barry O'Neill kicked on four out and kept enough in reserve for a nine-length call over Golan Guy.
Winners do not come any more deserving than Galway Legend's maiden success in the Total Produce Handicap Chase at 11 years of age.
Racing for the 51st time in his career, the gelding led after two out under David Casey before running out the eight-length winner over Westmeath Bachelor.
Afterwards, winning trainer Iggy Madden said: "I guess you could say that was a long time coming. Galway Legend was as good as put down having broken down very badly at Kilbeggan in 2008, but I persevered with him -- he may now run again at Sligo next week."
Galway Legend was racing for the 51st time (including five point-to-points) in a career that began in March 2003 and had failed to yield any win until now.
The closing bumper went to the Willie Fitzpatrick-trained Littletown Lass. Mark Fahey, partnering his fourth winner of the season, made all on the daughter of High Rise, which recorded a comfortable eight-length win over Whats On The Menu.