William strikes Lucky for Cooper clan
Lucky William battled hard to repel Whodoyouthink's challenge to run out a game winner of the Buck House Novice Chase for Tom Cooper and his son Bryan at Punchestown yesterday.
While the Tralee handler was denied a Grade Three double when Forpadydeplasterer failed to justify short odds in the conditions chase, there was no disguising his joy after Lucky William confirmed the promise of his recent Listowel triumph.
In a race that saw fencing debutants Shinrock Paddy and Rathlin turn in poor displays, Lucky William's chasing experience came to the fore, as his talented 19-year-old rider produced him to challenge two-out from just off the pace.
In four starts over fences last term, the seven-year-old had done plenty to suggest that he was the most inappropriately named horse in training, falling with the race at his mercy first time up and then finishing second twice, so yesterday's length-and-a-quarter win wasn't before time.
"I always thought he was a good horse," the trainer said of the 9/2 shot, "but things just went wrong for him last year. He winged fences here and had loads in the tank at the line. He could go back for the Drinmore now."
Forpadydeplasterer went off the 4/11 market leader in the day's three-runner feature on his first start since pulling up in last year's King George Chase, but failed to land a blow as Roi Du Mee made all to score by 16 lengths. Gordon Elliott's six-year-old was completing a double for Gigginstown Stud and Davy Russell, who had secured the opening maiden hurdle with Noel Meade's Il Fenomeno.
Elliott was absent as he made his way to Cheltenham for today's meeting, but connections suggested that the JNWine.com Chase at Down Royal could be the next port of call for Roi Du Mee. That race is also an option for Forpadydeplasterer, whose below-par performance Cooper attributed to rustiness as a result of his lay-off.
In the other Grade Three, the Ryans Cleaning Events Specialists Hurdle, Steps To Freedom came from the back of the five-runner field to make it two from two over flights for Jessica Harrington. Last season's Aintree Champion Bumper winner survived a mistake two-out and a stewards' inquiry to land the spoils.
Sent off the 11/8 favourite, Robbie Power's mount got involved in some minor scrimmaging with the eventual runner-up Sailors Warn in the straight, but had a decisive length-and-a-quarter margin to spare at the line.
"The mistake he made at the second last would stop most horses," Harrington said, "but you'd excuse him that."
Ruby Walsh maintained his 100pc strike rate for Paul Magnier when he galvanised Carutomark (11/1), just his second ride for the Curragh handler, to take the Paul Carberry Autobiography Handicap Hurdle by two and a half lengths from Clarkey.
The Ingoldsby (Q.R.) Handicap Chase went to the Aidan Howard-trained Dont Tell De Purty (10/1) which got the better of Dark Vagabond by half a length under a fine ride from Nina Carberry.
The bumper produced an exciting finish with newcomer Joxer -- backed at long odds in the morning and returned 12/1 -- obliging for the combination of veterain trainer Bill Harney and amateur rider Damien Skehan.