'Duca' proves worth for Elliott and Moore in Limerick feature
A mixed week for Gordon Elliott took a turn for the better at Leopardstown yesterday, while the Graded contests at Limerick continue to fall his way this week, and there is every chance the name of Duca De Thaix will be one that we will be hearing more of as the season develops.
The son of Voix Du Nord overcame his own greenness and the testing ground to see off his three rivals in the Grade Three Irish Independent Hurdle.
Jonathan Moore was at pains to keep the Gigginstown-owned four-year-old together in the straight as his mount was looking all around him when coming to challenge, thus keeping his more streetwise opponent Us And Them there with a puncher's chance.
In the end, however, he was more aware after the final flight as to requirements and picked up quite nicely to score by two-and-a-half lengths with a distance back to his other two rivals Prospectus and very disappointing odds-on favourite Meri Devie, who added to a miserable day for Willie Mullins.
Elliott's assistant Ian Amond commented: "He had a good run at Naas the first day. He looked like he was going to win two out that day but he got a bit tired and has clearly come on a lot for it. Jonathan said he handled the ground well and it was fairly straightforward."
It is not easy to know where he fits in among the Elliott novices but he is clearly a nice, progressive horse.
The riding honours went to Philip Enright for the Kerry jockey's brilliant recovery on Surf Instructor which claimed the D Pack Packaging Rated Novice Chase in dramatic fashion.
Enright looked certain to be unseated when thrown to the right after Henry de Bromhead's five-year-old made a hash of the last fence.
However, the jockey got back on an even keel and forced Surf Instructor (9/2) up to land the spoils by a half-length, despite having his feet out of the irons.
"He winged the second-last and I thought I had a chance going to the last, but he kind of banked it for some strange reason," said the rider.
"Thankfully someone was looking down on me and pushed me back into the saddle."
Carrigtwohill, Co Cork permit holder Noel O'Neill experienced a pre-Christmas rush of a different kind - to get his licence in order for his star pointer Ministerforsport to be able to line up in the two-mile maiden hurdle.
He got it and the 5/2 second favourite obliged under Donie McInerney, taking down some big names in the process.
"I only got the licence last week and I owe a big thanks to Elaine Burke and Angie Coakley in HRI (Horse Racing Ireland) for pushing things forward for me," said O'Neill.
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