Realt Dubh stars for Carberry
HOT favourite Mikael D'Haguenet proved a big disappointment yesterday as Realt Dubh came out on top in a dramatic race for the Bord na Mona With Nature Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
Willie Mullins' charge was backed into 4/7 favourite to make amends for his last-fence fall at Fairyhouse, but never looked like landing the odds. Jessica Harrington's Saludos set out to make all and was still leading as they turned for home, only to give Robbie Power a heavy fall at the final fence.
This left Realt Dubh in front and Paul Carberry brought Noel Meade's 10/1 shot home five lengths clear of Noble Prince, which stayed on well to collar Torphichen for second place. Mikael D'Haguenet could do no better than fifth. "I was a bit disappointed with him the last day at Fairyhouse but he jumped brilliant today," said Meade.
"I always thought the world of him but did think he always wanted two and a half miles. He could come back for the Irish Arkle and we'll see what happens, but he could be a contender for the Cheltenham Arkle next March."
Mullins said of Mikael D'Haguenet: "I'm hoping he was maybe just flat after Fairyhouse. I wasn't happy from the fifth. He didn't jump great down the back and his rhythm went."
Mikael D'Haguenet was pushed out to 16/1 from 7/1 by William Hill for Cheltenham's RSA Chase, while Paddy Power have removed him from the betting for that race -- as well as the Gold Cup.
Realt Dubh boosted his Festival prospects and was cut by Paddy Power to 16/1 from 33/1 for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy, while Ladbrokes went 14/1 from 33s.
There was also a surprise in the Bord na Mona Fire Magic Juvenile Hurdle as 6/4 favourite Toner D'Oudairies could only finish fourth behind Sailors Warn (12/1).
Andrew McNamara sent the Edward O'Grady-trained gelding into the lead before the final flight before going on to score by three and a half lengths from Fearless Falcon, with Accidental Outlaw third.
Toner D'Oudairies was a big disappointment and never travelled well or jumped fluently.
"That made up for a series of disappointments and he didn't jump well enough at Fairyhouse the last day," O'Grady said.
"I was thinking of running him in the Fred Winter Hurdle at Cheltenham but he may now go for the Grade One race here on Hennessy day in February."
O'Grady and McNamara completed a double when 11/10 favourite Shot From The Hip took the Bord Na Mona Clean Air Maiden Hurdle by three and a half lengths from Endless Intrigue.
Hidden Universe landed a comfortable all-the-way success in the opening maiden hurdle. The 4/11 favourite never gave his supporters an anxious moment as he made a successful debut over jumps.
Robbie McNamara had the Dermot Weld-trained four-year-old travelling nicely at the head of the field and dictated affairs all the way round and hardly had to be shaken up to win.
None of the rivals were able to get in a blow as Hidden Universe won by four lengths from Joe Smooth, with House Rules third.
McNamara completed a brace when bringing home the much-hyped Bold Optimist, the 11/8 favourite, from last to first to make a winning debut in the closing bumper.
Trained by Gordon Elliott, the four-year-old got home by two and a half lengths to become the general 10/1 favourite for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham.