Fahey sets his sights on National glory at Fairyhouse
WHILE all the talk at Leopardstown was about the countdown to Cheltenham, there were only thoughts for the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse for the winning connections of He'llberemembered.
Paul Fahey is hoping to run He'llberemembered in the Easter Monday showpiece after his charge emerged triumphant in a thrilling finish to the Carrickmines Handicap Chase.
Second behind Mikael D'Haguenet at Thurles in January, the 10-year-old was allowed to go off at 10/1 as he switched to handicap company for the first time over fences, with regular rider and conditional jockey Shane Butler doing the steering.
He led a group of four horses in with a real chance of victory after jumping the final fence and pulled out all the stops to pass the post three-quarters of a length in front of Pineau De Re.
"In fairness, I'm not a trainer, so imagine what he'd do if a trainer had him," said Fahey, who is actually farrier to champion trainer Willie Mullins.
"He's been knocking on the door in good handicap hurdles and deserved his chance. The plan was always to come here, because all the better horses are going to Cheltenham.
"There are good handicaps this and next weekend and we've also been toying with idea of the Irish National – we'll make an entry and, hopefully, the handicapper won't be too harsh on him. If we got the right weight we might take our chance in it."
Paul Townend suffered a fall from King Of The Refs and was stood down for the rest of the day, leaving the course in a sling heading for an x-ray.
Earlier, the former champion had been successful on Fosters Cross in the Ballsbridge Hurdle.
Tom Mullins' 11-year-old has won races on the Flat, over hurdles and over fences, but was a 10/1 shot for his latest assignment.
Mount Colah led the field for a long way, but Fosters Cross closed him down before the home turn and powered up the straight to score by 12 lengths from hot favourite Blackstairmountain.
Jessica Harrington's Operating opened his account over obstacles with a smooth display in the opening maiden hurdle at the Foxrock venue.
The Punchestown bumper winner was a heavily supported 7/4 joint-favourite, having been placed on his last three starts, and Robbie Power was happy to track market rival Thunder And Roses for the first half of the two-and-a-half-mile heat.
His task was made significantly easier heading down the back straight as Thunder And Roses was carried out by a loose horse and Operating kicked on from the home turn, going on to seal a five-length verdict over Mireya.
Harrington said: "Operating has just been crying out for better ground. He jumped brilliantly, it was his first time at two and a half miles. We'll go chasing next year, but the idea is to go to Fairyhouse and Punchestown."
Summer Star came from the clouds to claim a last-gasp victory for Ted and Katie Walsh in the www.leopardstown.com Handicap Hurdle.
Sent off the 7/2 market-leader, having come from a similarly uncompromising position to win at the track last month, the five-year-old was nearer last than first rounding the home turn, with Katie hard at work.
However, once switched wide, Summer Star went into overdrive and flew home after the final flight to collar Captain Arceus by a neck.
Tony Martin and Davy Russell combined to take the EBF Novice Chase with 5/1 shot Savello. Last month's Clonmel winner jumped accurately throughout the two-mile-one-furlong contest, something which could not be said of favourite Rupert Lamb, which parted company with Ruby Walsh after a bad mistake down the back straight.
The challengers were queueing up to have a go at Savello at the top of the home straight, but he saw them all off, with The Real Article grabbing the runner-up spot, two-and-three-quarter lengths away from the winner.
Martin said: "It was a good performance and he jumped very well. We always liked the way he jumped from day one and it's all come together today. He was very difficult and very free, which is why he wears the hood, but he's got a bit of age on his side and he's learning."
Two heavyweights of the Flat dominated the conclusion of the bumper, with Aidan O'Brien's Shield edging out the Dermot Weld-trained Grecian Tiger.
Kate Harrington was in the plate on this occasion, but the trainer's son, Joseph, has already made enquiries about getting special permission to ride the 8/1 winner at Cheltenham.