Doyle's Party steals the show
EOIN Doyle's Come To The Party showed he's no back number at Limerick where the 10-year-old galloped clear of his rivals in the Garryowen Veterans Handicap Chase.
The son of Taipan made most of the running under Mikey Butler, but had to dig deep in the final half-mile when he was headed by 6/4 favourite Caim Hill after the fourth last fence.
Butler refused to panic on Come To The Party and kept tabs on the market leader before regaining the initiative in the home straight.
The 6/1 third favourite ploughed through the mud to record a nine-length success for Eoin Doyle, with the Kilkenny trainer also responsible for third-placed For A Finish.
Michael Hourigan's False Economy recorded his third victory at the Patrickswell venue by capturing the Christmas Racing Festival Hurdle under a fine ride from Paul Townend.
The eight-year-old was held up in last in the early stages as the Willie Mullins-trained favourite Un Beau Roman tried to make all the running. However, Ruby Walsh began to send out distress signals on the leader after jumping the second last and, once headed by False Economy, the market leader could only find one pace.
Hourigan's charge quickened to score by three and a half lengths and a similar hold-up ride benefited Questions Answered as he landed a gamble in the Patrickswell Handicap Hurdle.
Backed into 2/1 favourite, Eric McNamara's eight-year-old had more in front than behind as jockey Rob Jones played a waiting game for much of the contest. Jones edged his mount closer and by the second last, the pair had improved into second place just behind Tabhachtach.
Questions Answered hit the front just before the last, and while soon challenged by Courage, Jones kept his mount going strongly to prevail by half a length.
While the Mullins-Walsh axis was out of luck earlier in the card, the all-conquering trainer-jockey combination saw normal service restored with The Paparazzi Kid in the novice chase.
It was a smooth success for the odds-on favourite, which gave a professional round of jumping before taking the lead at the second last and keeping on well for a three-length win over Castle Wings.
Jane Mangan is a rider to be respected in bumpers and the Cork native took the closing Mares Ladies Flat Race for the third year in-a-row, this time aboard the Prunella Dobbs-trained Romantic Fashion. Despite drifting out to 3/1 from an opening 9/4, she was always travelling well on the heels of the leaders and stayed on strongly to beat Dream Beat by over three lengths.
The rider's father, Jimmy Mangan, sent out the well-backed Pumbaa to land the opening Martinstown Opportunity Maiden Hurdle in the hands of Kevin Sexton, notching his third winner of the week. Mangan wasn't present as the trainer was attending a point-to-point in Kinsale and the 8/11 favourite made virtually all to beat Bawntameena by four lengths.
Elsewhere, Paul Nicholls celebrated an early Grade One victory this season after Ptit Zig claimed the Prix Renaud du Vivier at Auteuil. In front turning into the straight, Ptit Zig, with David Cottin aboard, made a beeline for the rail. It paid off in the heavy ground as he stayed straight as an arrow, coming home two lengths clear of Le Grand Luce.
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