Bonny Kate boosts Irish Grand National claims with front-running triumph in Limerick
Bonny Kate enhanced her Irish Grand National claims as she made every yard of the running to land the Grade Two 8/1 Willie Mullins To Train A Cheltenham Winner At Coral.ie EBF Mares Novice Chase at Limerick.
Noel Meade's charge was sent off the 1-2 favourite to extend her winning run to three following victories at Fairyhouse and Punchestown and she got the job done with the minimum of fuss.
Sean Flanagan was positive from the off aboard the six-year-old and she was still well in control as both Uranna and Emcon tried to challenge with two fences still to jump.
However, a couple of neat leaps at the final obstacles sealed a cosy victory, with Bonny Kate beating Uranna by two and a quarter lengths at the line.
Flanagan said: "She is very, very good to jump, runs the whole way to the line and loves that heavy ground.
"She is very versatile and actually has plenty of speed, but is also gutsy and hardy and stays galloping.
"The Irish National is in mind for her and everything seems to be going the right way for her and whatever she gets for today, she'll have a nice weight there."
Barnahash Rose registered a minor surprise as she claimed the Grade Three Kerry Group European Breeders Fund Shannon Spray Mares Novice Hurdle.
Trained by Jonathan Sweeney and ridden by Ambrose McCurtin, the eight-year-old was sent off a 6-1 chance after failing to strike gold in four previous hurdles outings, but she put her best foot forward to see off the challenge of 5-2 joint-favourite Myztique by 11 lengths.
Sweeney, who was recording the biggest success of his career to date, said: "I've only two in training and my other horse (Minutestomidnight) won first time out under Jamie Codd at Lingstown earlier today.
"Barnahash Rose is an improving mare and the trip today suited - she ran over shorter the last two days but it was just too short.
"She wouldn't be in love what that heavy ground and is better on nicer and coming here today, I had the three-mile handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse in mind for her next.
"I'm training three years and that's my third winner on the track and I also have a good record with my point to pointers."
The rest of the card belonged to trainer John Joe Walsh who completed a 363-1 treble courtesy of Never Again, the McCurtin-ridden Instant Smile and Monasteradenpauric.
Never Again (12-1) stayed on all the way to the line to deny evens favourite Slowmotion in the Limerick Racecourse Vets Hurdle while Instant Smile (7-1) completed McCurtin's double when holding 2-11 market leader Ben Button in the Ryans Cleaning Maiden Hurdle.
Monasteradenpauric completed the hat-trick when landing the Irish Field Handicap Hurdle as a 5-2 favourite.
Walsh said: "I had a treble years ago and that's just my second one although we've had four doubles already this season.
"He (Monasteradenpauric) was drunk in the closing stages but is a good, genuine horse and will get a good break after that. Whenever the ground gets good, he'll be left off."
Of his other winners, Walsh added: "Instant Smile hadn't shown us a lot in point to points but is very big - 17 hands - and wanted time. He'll go for a handicap hurdle next.
"Never Again settled today and the heavier ground helped her settle more. She was second in Thurles twice but didn't settle either day.
"She is ground dependent and all those Jeremys want heavy ground. She'll might run next in a four-year-old race at Fairyhouse."
David Mullins delivered Pat Fahy's Thelobstercatcher with a perfectly-timed run to lift the Lyons Of Limerick Handicap Chase while Wildcatted (25-1) came home a wide-margin winner of the Charleville Cheese Beginners Chase.