The Real Article proves touch of class with battling success
THE Real Article is set to be given the chance to test his powers at the highest level after an impressive victory in yesterday's WKD Hurdle at Down Royal.
The six-year-old faced arguably his toughest test to date in this five-runner Grade Two, with Jessica Harrington's dual Grade One winner Oscars Well making his seasonal return.
Both horses travelled well early on, but it was the latter which looked the likely winner when cruising to the lead before the turn for home. But as he tired on his first run since March, The Real Article kept responding to Barry Geraghty's urgings and battled his way back to the lead.
Recent Cheltenham winner Kalann was a big threat on the run for home, but The Real Article held him off by a length and a quarter.
"We have the luxury now of either giving him a break and preparing him for a spring campaign or else going for races like the Hatton's Grace or Fighting Fifth Hurdles," said trainer Edward O'Grady. "I'll discuss things with Barry (Geraghty) before making firm plans and, at this moment, I couldn't say he won't make a Champion Hurdler."
The Real Article's victory was the second leg of a big-race double for O'Grady and Geraghty, having earlier struck with Miss Nomer in the mares novice hurdle.
The 13/2 chance was in receipt of weight from each of her rivals and that proved crucial as she galloped on strongly to beat Noras Fancy by four lengths.
It turned out to be a day of doubles, with Noel Meade also saddling two winners. The in-form trainer struck first with 15/2 chance Blue Cannon, which had his better-fancied stablemate Leroy Parker back in third when landing the three-year-old maiden hurdle.
Meade was soon on the mark again as Ipsos Du Berlais justified 4/5 favouritism with a ready victory in the Allianz Maiden Hurdle under Davy Russell.
Russell later returned to the winner's enclosure after the Mouse Morris-trained Four Commanders made it second time lucky over fences in the novice chase.
The 13/8 favourite is a full-brother to Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kicking King and while he is unlikely to reach those heights, there was plenty to like about this three-length success.
Across the water, Brian Harding was hit with a 13-day ban by the Hexham stewards under the new whip rules. The Cork rider was adjudged to have used his whip with excessive frequency on Lively Baron, which was beaten a head in the novice chase.