Sunday 21 January 2018

Brave books passage to England

Wicklow Brave
Wicklow Brave

Cheltenham Festival winner Wicklow Brave teed up a possible return to England for the Royal Ascot meeting after winning on the Flat at Listowel.

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old was sent on his way the 1-5 favourite for the five-runner Bryan McMahon Race for amateur riders over a mile and three-quarters, and never gave his supporters a moment's worry.

Patrick Mullins' partner was keen to get on with it early on, but was always travelling like a winner and eased into the lead passing the two-furlong pole, from where he coasted to victory by five and a half lengths from long-time leader Cardinal Palace.

Wicklow Brave claimed the County Hurdle at Cheltenham in March by eight lengths and has now gone two races unbeaten since his transfer to Flat racing.

The Queen Alexandra Stakes at the Royal meeting - a race his trainer won last season with Pique Sous - could now be a potential big-race summer target.

Patrick Mullins said: "He did it very easy and did what we expected. His pedigree suggests he'd be a high-quality Flat horse.

"If I had my way he'd run in the GPT (amateur handicap) at Galway - but dad might have bigger plans! I imagine he might run in Royal Ascot instead."

Things didn't work out for the Mullins team when favourite Laviniad could not catch Gary Phillips on the Victor Clifford-trained runaway leader Hurricane Twister (33-1) in the Follow Listowel Races On Facebook Handicap, going down by half a length.

Phillips, who partnered the eight-year-old to two all-the-way wins in 2012, said: "That's the way he did it in 2012 and the plan today was to steal a big lead early on. I knew when we were four or five lengths clear turning in the others would struggle to catch me, and thankfully he held on. I was glad to see the line."

Aidan O'Brien introduced a potentially smart juvenile in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden as Deauville ran out a ready winner.

The son of Galileo, sent off the 6-4 favourite, was always handy under Seamie Heffernan and led on the home turn before running on strongly down the straight to beat off the challenge of the experienced Hoppala by two lengths.

Heffernan said: "It was easy to like him and he was pretty professional, although he was a little green under pressure."

Dermot Weld's 6-5 favourite Sight Hound got off the mark after two seconds with an emphatic success in the Median Auction Maiden, leading a furlong and a half out under Pat Smullen and quickly asserting to score by two lengths.

Jim Bolger looked to have found a fine opportunity for Knocknagree in the Croom House Stud EBF Fillies Maiden and so it proved, Kevin Manning keeping the evens favourite up to her work to win by three and a quarter lengths after leading for most of the way.

The trainer's travelling head man Ger Flynn said: "The ground was gluey and horrible for her, but it's nice to get a winning bracket. She reared up in the gates, too, but still won, and was entitled to win on her previous form. H opefully she will look for black-type at some stage."

Ecoeye (16-1) didn't have the easiest of passages but won cosily in the end under Connor King in the George Fitzmaurice Handicap, while Fran Berry led all the way and kept Bay Hill (6-1) going to take the St John's Literary Centre Handicap.

Press Association

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