VETERAN chaser Jack The Bus showed his liking for Navan once more yesterday when he recorded another big win at his local track.
Jack The Bus may now be a 12-year-old, but Peter Casey's charge showed that he still retains an appetite for the game when winning the featured Foxrock Handicap Chase.
Trained by Dubliner Casey in nearby Stamullen, the 2010 Troytown Chase winner lumped top weight to victory to stamp his class on proceedings. Ridden by man-of-the-moment Andrew Lynch, the 7/2 shot survived a bad blunder at the second-last to come home three lengths clear of Four Chimneys.
Jack The Bus had finished seventh when trying to retain his Troytown title and the winner will now head for the Thyestes Chase at Gowran on January 26. "The ground was too fast for him in Leopardstown," explained Casey, who enjoyed a good success last week with novice Flemenstar. "Jack The Bus will go for the Thyestes."
Barry Geraghty escaped unscathed from a nasty incident when the 11/4 favourite Kakagh dived out through the wing at the fence in front of the stands on the first circuit.
Willie Mullins left the course with two winners, but had another three short-priced favourites beaten.
The day started in good fashion for Mullins when recent French import Terminal (4/7 favourite) landed the odds in fine style in the 2012 Navan Membership Maiden Hurdle. Winning jockey Ruby Walsh said: "First run you never like making the running, but he jumped super. We didn't go much of a gallop, but he quickened up well from the back of the last when I gave him a smack."
So Young (1/3 favourite) then won the Follow Navan On Facebook Hurdle -- but what was established with the future in mind is debatable. Indeed, Stan James left him untouched for all of his future targets, which include the Irish Champion Hurdle.
"Ruby was not afraid to make the pace and he did it well from the front," said Mullins. "He jumped well and is a horse with lots of stamina -- his best trip is way beyond two miles. The Boyne Hurdle here next month is a possibility. He will be entered in the Champion Hurdle and the World Hurdle."
Tom Mullins, Willie's brother, was also on the scoresheet when top weight Baby Whizz won the Meath Handicap Hurdle (7/1) for Mark Walsh. "We will see what the handicapper does with him now but he could go for the Boylesports Hurdle at Leopardstown next (January 28)," said the trainer.
Oscar Dan Dan, formerly trained by Tom Mullins and now with Tony Martin, opened his account over fences in the beginners chase. Willie Mullins' Bagber was the 8/11 jolly, but a bad mistake two from home stopped him in his tracks. Winner of the 2009 Hatton's Grace Hurdle in his youth, Oscar Dan Dan may not reach those heights over fences.
"It took him a while to get his jumping right. He is not over big but has a bit of class and that came through in the end," Martin said.
Another losing Mullins hot-pot was Are Ya Right Chief, which chased home the Noel Meade-trained Knockgraffon King in the maiden hurdle. Paul Carberry always looked confident and kept him up to his work for a three-length win. "I was very disappointed with him the last day but he probably needed the run a bit," said Meade.
The bumper saw yet another reversal for the Mullins' camp as the champion trainer's 9/10 favourite Raise Hell could only finish seventh behind the Mervyn Torrens-trained Golden Firth, under Mark Enright.