Double hits mark for Brassil
Grand National-winning trainer Martin Brassil picked up a valuable prize when Double Seven landed the Gigginstown House Midlands National Handicap Chase at Kilbeggan in a drama-packed finish.
Alan Crowe played his hand late on the JP McManus-owned seven-year-old (7/1), which ran on strongly to score by two and a half lengths after almost being knocked over in scrimmaging as the jockeys sought racing room with the last fence omitted because of the low sun.
Runner-up Wise Oscar met interference bypassing the final fence, colliding with eventual third place Tom Horn (also in the McManus silks) in the closing stages. The stewards later enquired into the incident, but left the result unchanged.
Crowe said: "There wasn't much room (bypassing the last) and there were four of us vying for the same position.
"I was talking to Martin and to Frank Berry (McManus' racing manager) and they both told me he'd stay well and not be one bit worried about the trip. It's great to win a race like this."
Co Kildare handler Brassil won the 2006 Grand National at Aintree with Numbersixvalverde, which had taken the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse the year before.
Dessie Hughes landed a double completed by the long-overdue success of the talented, but frustrating Stonemaster (10/11 favourite) in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase.
Davy Russell had to pull out all the stops to get him home by a nose as Im Cool Too closed fast. Hughes' in-foal mare New River (11/4) won for the first time in 17 attempts when she produced a fine front-running display of fluent jumping to take the Tom McCormack Memorial Cup Mares Maiden Hurdle, coasting over the line with 11 lengths to spare under Mark Enright.
The trainer said: "I thought the race she ran in Roscommon the last time was a bit stronger than this.
"She jumped very well and every race she has ran she was just staying on, so I thought the trip would suit. She's in foal to Jeremy and she seems to be improving."
Another to lead all the way was the Tom Foley-trained Ontheground (11/2), which ran on strongly for Roger Loughran to keep the challengers at bay in the mullingar.ie Handicap Hurdle, winning by three and a quarter lengths.
The handler said: "He got very worked up the last day and I don't know why, because it's not like him. He is the only National Hunt horse I have in for the summer, so he is flying the flag for us!"
The Ladies Day At Kilbeggan Handicap Hurdle produced a thrilling finish as Dermot McLoughlin's Ocean Bright (8/1), which was left in front three out, was kept going by Conor Maxwell to hold Miss Penny Pincher by a nose, with Coosan Belle a luckless third.