IT was a day of gambles landed at Limerick yesterday as punters who followed the money in the betting ring reaped handsome reward.
The first of those well-backed winners came when Dog Barrel Hill took the Friends of Limerick Racecourse Maiden Hurdle to give trainer/owner James Dullea his first success on the track.
Having opened on course at 6/1, the son of Anshan was punted into 7/2 and duly obliged in the hands of Andrew McNamara.
After winning two point-to-points in the early months of this year, he then ran in four novice chases on the track but he showed very little.
But in what was a very weak contest, the seven-year-old was prominent all the way and hit the front approaching the straight before staying on strongly for a comfortable four-length win.
Castlerock Rose ran well to finish second under Derek O'Connor, while the 5/4 favourite High Class Show could only manage a disappointing third, 16 lengths back.
Dullea said afterwards: "That's my first winner on the track. I've had around 10 point-to-point winners and I have my licence a year and a half. I was with John Murphy for two years before that."
The other notable market mover saw Clashnabrook, which could have been backed at 25/1 in the morning, capture the Ryans Event Cleaners Handicap Hurdle at odds of 8/1 for trainer Eoghan O'Grady.
After showing nothing of note on his first five starts on the racecourse, he ran slightly better last time out on his handicap hurdle debut at Cork, where he stayed on from the back to finish 13 lengths behind Madam Mado.
Having raced prominently throughout, he took up the running approaching the straight but was soon joined by the 7/4 favourite Dr Proctor under Alain Cawley. After a great battle on the run-in, he edged in front to score by half a length at the line under Conor Maxwell. After the race, the stewards referred the improvement in form case on to the referrals committee for further investigation.
There was a surprise in the day's feature, the Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle, in which My Murphy came from last to first to land the Grade Three contest.
Noel Meade's odds-on favourite Please Talk looked like collecting when cruising to the front soon after the home turn, with My Murphy and Shay Barry still at the back of the five-runner field.
But when Please Talk hit the second-last, it gave the staying-on 16/1 shot My Murphy a serious chance and he finished off his race well to score by three and three-quarter lengths.
"He never travelled the last day but he travelled much better today," trainer Liam Burke said. "He is still a big baby and he might have one more run over hurdles."
Meade was later compensated when well-backed favourite Medical Card was a facile winner of the Irish Independent Beginners Chase in the hands of Paul Carberry, proving a comfortable length too good for Fernhurst Lad.
"He shows flashes of being good at home, but then he disappoints. In hindsight his run at Punchestown wasn't too bad," said Meade. "He is better off being up with the pace as that makes up his mind for him. He is bred to stay and his dam is a half-sister to What a Question, and we will see what the handicapper does with him now."
The bookies got a dream result in the Emmet Leahy Millstream Memorial Beginners Chase as Michael Hourigan's 20/1 shot Friendly Society got up to beat Shane Rock by a nose under a fine ride from Paul Moloney, while the opening juvenile hurdle went to 16/1 outsider Arnaud for trainer Charles Byrnes and jockey Philip Enright.
The closing bumper produced an exciting finish with the Martin Fitzgerald-trained Lastofthepilots, under James 'Corky' Carroll, just doing enough to hold off the late challenge of Kerrieonvic, with favourite Kerryhead Storm back in third.