Class act Voler caps magical weekend for Lynch
VOLER La Vedette secured a famous victory in the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse yesterday as local rider Andrew Lynch completed a weekend to remember on Colm Murphy's resilient mare.
Following his brilliant success aboard Sizing Europe in the Tingle Creek at Sandown 24 hours earlier, Lynch showed commendable composure to pilot Voler La Vedette (7/4) to a precious debut Grade One triumph.
Murphy's gutsy mare was only returned to training in the summer because she failed to get in foal to Presenting. After grinding out a three-and-three-quarter-length win in testing going from favourite Mourad, with The Real Article a head back in third, the classy bay's value as a broodmare prospect has now been dramatically enhanced.
"Thank God, she didn't take to Presenting," a delighted Murphy quipped afterwards, before adding of Margaret Brophy's homebred seven-year-old: "She deserved her Grade One, but she is physically way better and easier to train now. She is a credit to everyone at home, as they put so much work into keeping her right -- sometimes I wonder if we are a health spa or a training stables with all the attention she gets!
"She'll probably go to Leopardstown at Christmas next; I guess she may go back to Presenting in the spring, but at least she will do so with a proper CV now."
Third behind Quevega in the mares' race at Cheltenham last year, the winner was subsequently cut from 12/1 to 8/1 by Boylesports for the 2012 renewal.
Mourad's rider Ruby Walsh accrued a Grade One brace earlier courtesy of Sous Les Cieux in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and Bog Warrior in the Drinmore Novice Chase.
Also on the Grade One scoresheet on Saturday with Al Ferof, Walsh was at his best when guiding Bog Warrior to a 31-length rout over Shinrock Paddy, in the process helping Summerhill-based Tony Martin to his first Grade One win.
Bog Warrior was one of three to sport Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown Stud silks in this two-and-a-half-miler. With Davy Russell opting for the Cheltenham Festival hero First Lieutenant, Walsh got the nod for Bog Warrior, and took full advantage as Russell's mount paid the price for a desperate blunder at the eighth fence.
The favourite was a spent force by the time Russell pulled him up on the run to the last fence, with Mouse Morris later reporting that he had burst a blood vessel. Bog Warrior, which led early having raced keenly, reached for the same fence that First Lieutenant demolished, but never had a moment's worry thereafter as he cantered up at odds of 15/8 to maintain an unbeaten record in four completed starts.
"We always knew he could be something special if we kept him right," Martin reported, "and down the road he could be a horse for the Hennessy or the Lexus. If he's well and right, he could run at Leopardstown at Christmas, but we won't rush him -- when Ruby got down off him, he said to mind him."
Walsh had marginally more to do when the 6/4 market leader Sous Les Cieux took the Royal Bond from Galileo's Choice. A third winner of this prestigious novice in four years for Willie Mullins, the classy Robin Des Champs five-year-old travelled easily as Walsh sent him on after three-out, but Galileo's Choice found plenty for pressure. Hard as Robbie McNamara tried on Galileo's Choice, he couldn't reel in Sous Les Cieux, though Dermot Weld was delighted with his former Group Three Flat winner, stating that he would be seen to better effect on a drier surface in the spring.
Mullins said of Sous Les Cieux: "He exceeded what I thought he could do. He had to do it the hard way and take it up a good way out, but he enjoyed his jumping and I'm happy that he will improve for that. We'll have a look at the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown at Christmas next."
The 9/4 favourite Sam Bass repelled a fast-finishing His Excellency to score for a third time in four jumping starts for Noel Meade and Paul Carberry in the opening Grade Three juvenile hurdle, and the last three races of the day also went the way of the jolly. Michael Hourigan's Cloughmile, backed from 4/1 into 2/1, was spring-heeled at the last en route to a convincing victory in the mares' handicap chase under Adrian Heskin, while Smoking Aces (4/1) made up for previous disappointments when eking out a length verdict in the long-distance handicap chase.
"He has broken our hearts," Tom Taaffe said of the JP McManus-owned winner, "but he got out of bed on the right side today. Mark (Walsh) was good on him there."
In the bumper, Philip Fenton's debutant Venture Capital looked a useful prospect when justifying 9/4 favouritism under Richie Kiely. The son of Presenting was subsequently quoted at 16/1 for the Cheltenham bumper by Paddy Power.