De Benno defies years for Grace and Landers
Toomevara permit holder James Grace has had many good horses run in his colours over the years. Not all of them were trained by him, such as Mick The Man, which was trained by Noel Meade to win the Grade One Champion Bumper at Punchestown a decade ago, so the owner-trainer-breeder got a special kick out of doing the hard work himself in preparing the 12-year-old De Benno to land the feature Tim Duggan Memorial Chase at Limerick yesterday.
It has not been all plain sailing as Grace described the horse as having had many problems, but to produce this horse to win such a competitive handicap chase a few days short of becoming a teenager was a feat of some note.
It also advertised the talents of rider Cathal Landers, as he gave the son of Beneficial the most astute of front-running rides, finding plenty to account for Sumos Novios by five lengths.
"We were lucky because the ground really suited him and he had a light weight on his back," said Grace modestly. He added: "He's getting better as he has been getting older, and any other year he would have gone wrong. He's had an awful lot of problems with his legs and his back and everything but this year, touch wood, things have been going better for him. It depends what the handicapper does, but if he got into a race like the Grade A Dan Moore Chase at Fairyhouse next month we would have to look at it. We might give him a run over hurdles either, he's only rated 99 over flights. To win a pot like that is great, I've only four in training, it's only a hobby but still it's a hobby you like to make a few quid out of!"
Spotters It was a very good day for Landers, not only riding the biggest winner of his career to date, but also riding his first double. Any talent spotters watching him will have noted that the two rides could not have been more contrasting as the front-running ride on De Benno had been preceded by a fine hold-up ride on the Jim Barcoe-trained Allez Kal to win the 3m handicap hurdle half-an-hour earlier. Emphatic it was too, as the daughter of Kalanisi scored by 14 lengths.
The Kilkenny trainer, in whose colours Grand National-winning jockey David Mullins rode his first winner as an amateur in February 2013, has only had a handful of runners since saddling his last winner in November 2014.