Saludos strikes for in-form Harrington
A revitalised Saludos boosted the handsome weekend earnings of the enduring Jessica Harrington-Robbie Power partnership when making virtually all the running to add yesterday's Flyingbolt Novice Chase to their initial Leopardstown Grade One double with Bostons Angel and Oscars Well.
Found to have scoped dirty after trailing home at the Dublin track last month behind old rival Realt Dubh, Galway owner Tom Curran's Bob Back gelding -- which had scored twice previously at the Meath venue -- responded to another determined drive by Power to see off Montan's challenge.
The pair came close together when negotiating the second-last, prompting a lengthy stewards' enquiry which, to most observers, was largely an academic exercise.
"We treated him when we found he'd scoped wrong the last day and gave him a week off. He bled then, possibly because he belted the last ditch, but this was more like him and we might look at Aintree if we thought he'd get soft ground there," said Harrington.
Saludos wasn't even entered at Cheltenham while a return trip to the Cotswolds for another crack at the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle is not being undertaken by Colm Murphy with Voler La Vedette despite that classy daughter of King's Theatre's fluent return to winning ways in the Boyne Hurdle.
An easy-to-back favourite for the Ladbrokes promotion, this top-rated runner -- which had been acquitting herself with credit in Grade One company -- took this step up in distance in her stride on ground that wasn't ideal in the hands of a confident Andrew Lynch.
"She travelled really well and found things a bit easier over today's trip," said Lynch, while Pat Murphy, representing his son Colm, added: "She may go to Gowran Park next Saturday for the Red Mills Hurdle and there's Fairyhouse and Punchestown for her later on."
Murphy's yard, near Gorey, doubled up an hour later when fellow first market choice Quito De La Roque put his proven stamina to good use again in the Ten Up Novice Chase for Davy Russell to record a fifth jumping success and career earnings in excess of €100,00.
"This horse is enjoying it and getting stronger all the time. We might try him next on a bit of better ground," said Pat Murphy, as champion owner Michael O'Leary's brother Eddie confirmed the seven-year-old was now an intended challenger for Cheltenham's four-mile National Hunt Chase with Stan James cutting this French-bred gelding's odds to 10/1 from 14/1.
Russell had initiated his own double for O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud as Cavan-based trainer Shane Donohoe's charge Sweeney Tunes gave the bookmakers a dream result when reversing last month's Naas bumper placings with hotpot Dantes King, which made a costly mistake at the final flight in the Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle, and failed to gain promotion following another session before the stewards' panel.
There were no such dramas, though, where Willie and Patrick Mullins were concerned in both the opening Marge Browne Memorial Maiden Hurdle, as Lios A Choill finished strongly to make amends for his Thurles misfortune, and newcomer Lord Gale clicked in the Dunsany Pro-Am.