Russell shows steel as Siegemaster lands Thyestes
Davy Russell showed his durability in the Connolly's Red Mills Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park yesterday when guiding Dessie Hughes' top-weight Siegemaster to victory.
Russell had to pass the doctor before racing after a crunching fall from Mossbank on Thursday, but the experience clearly had no effect.
Alpha Ridge and Hangover put the pace to the race and while Hangover dropped away, Alpha Ridge was still in front at the second-last with the blinkered Siegemaster just in behind.
Russell conjured up good leaps from the half-brother to Our Vic and while Willie Mullins' The Midnight Club threw down a challenge, the champion trainer had to settle for second. A bad mistake on the far side did his chances no good.
The Midnight Club's stablemate Ballytrim stayed on for third, with Alpha Ridge in fourth. William Hill were quick to cut The Midnight Club's Grand National odds to 25/1.
"It's great to finally win it, I'd never won it as a jockey or trainer before today," Hughes said. "He had a fairly good run in the Troytown when carrying 11st 10lb. He was upsides with Whinstone Boy at the last when third in this last year and was a lot better off at the weights, so he had a chance. The older he gets the easier it is for him to carry these big weights.
"We put the blinkers on him in last year's Irish National for the first time and he ran a hell of a race until he fell when he got tired. His half-brother Our Vic won big races in blinkers. We'll probably look at the Irish National for him now. He might go to Aintree next year."
Earlier, the Mullins-trained Mourad had no trouble in the Grade Two Galmoy Hurdle. Footy Facts and Powerstation set a fair gallop, but Paul Townend was motionless as the 4/9 favourite swept through the field to win by six lengths from Paul Nolan's Moskova.
"He seems to be improving and getting stronger with age," said Mullins. "He did that on ground I don't think he likes and he'll be better on better ground. It's looks like we are on track for the World Hurdle."
Gordon Elliott was on the mark in the opening maiden nurdle, in which his Plan A had to work hard before eventually running out a cheeky winner.
Paul Carberry's mount had travelled well until the turn-in, but then had to be shaken up at the second last. He stayed on into contention at the last flight and finally got to the front on the run-in.
Elliott was out of luck in the PJ Foley Memorial Novice Chase as Tharawaat was second placed behind the Mouse Morris-trained The Hurl, which produced a gutsy front-running performance. Niall Madden had his mount to the fore throughout and while Tharawaat challenged into the straight, the JP McManus-owned gelding rallied to win by two lengths.