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Wood burns debut rivals

Noel Meade was absent from Galway yesterday but he would have been more than pleased with the winning chasing debut of Cheltenham Festival winner Very Wood who took the beginners chase under Bryan Cooper.

The Gigginstown House Stud-owned Albert Bartlett winner was sent off the 1/2 favourite for the task and was almost foot-perfect throughout the 2m6f contest which he went on to win by a length-and-a-half from Michael Hourigan's decent type, The Job Is Right.

Yesterday's triumph failed to influence a change in Paddy Power's market for the RSA Chase as they left the five-year-old at 20/1 for that Cheltenham Festival target.

Owner Barry Connell's new retained jockey, Adrian Heskin, and the man he replaced, Danny Mullins, both enjoyed doubles on the card at Galway yesterday - with Heskin managing to open his account for his boss on just his third ride in this role.

Heskin landed the Ennis Lifts Handicap Chase on the Shane Broderick-trained Black Benny who held the rallying challenge of Rogue Angel by just a neck to the delight of Connell and Heskin.

Mullins completed his double by winning the opening race on Mumbo Bay for his mother, Mags, and then following that up by scoring on Battling Boru for his father, Tony.

A Gigginstown-owned double was brought up in the finale for the year at Galway as Tycoon Prince made a winning start for Gordon Elliott in the concluding bumper in the hands of Danny Benson, and it was an across-the-card double for the trainer who was on the mark at Wexford also as Crown Theatre won the beginners chase under Paul Carberry.

Gigginstown are responsible for the sole Irish representative in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby at the weekend as the jump season begins to step up a gear.


The Grade Two contest attracted 11 entries yesterday with Mouse Morris' First Lieutenant in the mix to take on Paul Nicholls' Silviniaco Conti in the race that hasn't witnessed an Irish winner since Sackville in 2001.

Sponsors bet365 make Nicholls' Aintree Bowl winner Silviniaco Conti the 6/4 favourite, with First Lieutenant a current 6/1 shot.

First Lieutenant is also likely to be among the entries for the Grade One JNWine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal this coming Saturday after the final forfeit stage this afternoon.

Meanwhile, on the Flat, Dermot Weld and owner Hamdan Al Maktoum have taken the decision to retire Epsom Oaks runner-up Tarfasha rather than go to the Breeders' Cup this weekend after the Curragh trainer admitted he wasn't pleased with her final piece of work.