Sunday 17 December 2017

Cracker caps perfect comeback for Russell

Russell: Winning return at Listowel
Russell: Winning return at Listowel

Thomas Kelly

ON a miserable day for punters at Listowel, Davy Russell made a spectacular comeback from injury as he guided Mr Cracker to victory in the featured handicap chase.

Russell had been sidelined since the Punchestown Festival in April after he underwent an operation on a lung injury he suffered during the Cheltenham Festival.

And he looked a picture of health aboard Mr Cracker in the Kevin Broderick Memorial Handicap Chase.

Russell got Michael Hourigan's charge jumping well in the colours of his retained owner, Michael O'Leary, and threw down a challenge to Uncle Tom Cobley after the second last.

Mr Cracker responded to Russell and stretched a length and a half clear of Uncle Tom Cobley on the run-in.

"I'm only back riding out for the last two weeks but I kept busy doing things and kept an eye on my fitness," said Russell.

"I find it too hard to let myself go completely when I'm out but there is nothing we can do to get us that fit without race-riding.

"The horse deserved it and he jumped well – I'm taking a bit more of a blow than him!"

The winner was returned at 10/1, with the two joint favourites – Sicilian Secret and Pass The Hat – running deplorably, with the former finishing 10th and the latter being pulled up.

However, this was very much the story of the day as, incredibly, on an eight-race card, not a single market leader could finish among the places.

Proceedings got under way with a victory for 14/1 outsider Ivy Glen in the Kingdom Mares Maiden Hurdle.

Patrick Ryan's five-year-old appeared to appreciate the drying ground as she made virtually all the running under Andrew McNamara to beat Pollywollydoodle by just over two lengths.

Favourite Ballykeereen unseated her rider at the last when well beaten, and this set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. In the following Harvest Festival Handicap Hurdle, the spoils went to the Denise Foster-trained Not For Burning, which stayed on strongly to see off Dick Dundee under Robbie Power. Riding honours on the card went to David Splaine who helped himself to a 356/1 double.

First up for Splaine was the emphatic success of the Cathy Harrison-trained Hang On Groovy, which powered 10 lengths clear of runner-up Evesham Star.

The jockey completed his brace as he took the John B Keane Mares Beginners Chase aboard the John Murphy-trained Liz's D'estruval.

The 20/1 outsider galloped on resolutely to get the better of The Blarney Rose by four lengths, with favourite Top Madam pulling up before the straight.

EASY

Henry de Bromhead was on the mark in the Listowel Celtic AFC Hunters Chase as Fort George ran out an easy victor under Paul Power.

The 6/1 shot belied his odds as he galloped clear before the straight to win by 12 lengths from I'llbetellingyoualie.

The longest-priced winner on the day was Bangonform at 25/1 in the John J Galvin Handicap Hurdle. Given a fine ride by Danny Mullins, the David Fitzgerald-trained gelding was forced to dig deep to get the better of Define by a head.

The concluding bumper went to Oliver Brady's King Shabra, which edged out Some Officer by half a length in the hands of Lenny Flynn.

Irish Independent

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