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Colonel moves up the ranks

Lieutenant Colonel may not have been well-backed to land the Grade One Bar One Racing Hattons Grace Hurdle but the reception he got back in the winners' enclosure told its own story.

It has been a trying few months for the Hughes family and all at Osborne Lodge as they suffered a premature changing of the guard with Sandra Hughes taking over from her late father Dessie but to the credit of the new licence holder and the staff that were nurtured so well by their former boss, the transition has been virtually seamless and Lieutenant Colonel was testament to that.

He saw off Jetson and Little King Robin in a dramatic renewal of the feature race.

"It's very special, it's fabulous," Hughes said afte securing her first Grade One win.

Only 24-hours previously, Hughes had saddled her first winner since taking over from her father at the same track which Dessie had both his first and his last winner.

"It's lovely to do that for Dad today," she added. "It was Dad's plan to stay over hurdles. We gave him a run over fences and he was a bit disappointing so we said we'd give him another year as he is only five.

"He did it well and he's in at Christmas and we'll have a look at that for him next."

There had been a twist to this year's Hattons Grace late on Friday morning when the race favourite Annie Power was ruled out due to lameness and that led Ruby Walsh to switch to Zaidpour who was looking to win the race for a second time for Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci. That wasn't to be the final twist.

Colin Bowe's Little King Robin deployed her customary front running tactics, the field followed and it was a rather uneventful contest as they passed the stands for the first time.

The five-runner field would then become three however as the 11/8 favourite Zaidpour crashed out at the fifth hurdle and brought down outsider King Of The Picts.

Little King Robin again ran with her usual credit but on this occasion failed to keep going. As Lieutenant Colonel and Jetson loomed, it was the supplemented Gigginstown-owned runner who would come out on top.

Winning jockey Bryan Cooper added: "I'm delighted as it was a brave call to supplement him but I definitely thought he had a chance without Annie Power in the race as he was a very good novice last year when he was still raw.

"Sandra, Bob Hennessy and Roger Loughran are doing a great job in keeping the yard going strong and it's all thanks to them."

Boylesports introduced Lieutenant Colonel at 25/1 for the World Hurdle at Cheltenham.

A large crowd assembled around the parade ring to welcome back Lieutenant Colonel and connections were given a second heart-warming round of applause as the photographers lined up Hughes alongside her mother Eileen and jockey Bryan Cooper.

Despite losing Annie Power from the race on Friday and Zaidpour midway through, Willie Mullins was one of the first to congratulate Sandra Hughes on her triumph.

Giving an update on Annie Power, Mullins reported: "The problem appears to be above the hock but we will do tests next week and she will go to Troytown for a bone scan. We'll go through all the motions but I would imagine it will mean eight to ten weeks box rest but I'll have no more news until midweek."

Unfortunately the outcome for Allez Colmobieres was much worse.

The high-profile French recruit was making his Irish debut for Mullins and Rich Ricci in the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and the very fact that Mullins opted to throw him straight into Grade One company for his hurdling debut just proved the high regard in which he held.

However, he unfortunately only got to jump two hurdles in the race before being pulled up by Ruby Walsh and despite the initial outcome being a hopeful one, it was revealed later in the afternoon that the horse had broken his pelvis.

"Unfortunately ,Allez Colombieres had to be put asleep," Mullins said. "He suffered a broken pelvis and the bone cut the iliac artery which meant he was bleeding internally and was in some discomfort."

Allez Colombieres went into the afternoon as the 4/1 favourite for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

There was something of a silver lining for the Mullins team as he still managed to win the Royal Bond with Nichols Canyon who took up the race between the final two hurdles and went away nicely from All Hell Let Loose.

"He improved his jumping and Paul said he had plenty left in the tank," said Mullins.

"I imagine I will go the natural two-mile novice hurdle route with him now and look at the Future Champions at Leopardstown next."

The opening Grade Three Bar One Racing Juvenile Hurdle also went the way of the Closutton outfit with Kalkir scoring on his Irish debut under Ruby Walsh and he is now clear 6/1 favourite from 12/1 for the Triumph Hurdle.


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