Sunday 21 January 2018

Long Dog comes up trumps for Willie Mullins in Novice Hurdle

Trainer Willie Mullins after he sent out Long Dog to win the Topaz Novice Hurdle. Galway Racing Festival, Ballybrit, Galway. Picture credit: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE
Trainer Willie Mullins after he sent out Long Dog to win the Topaz Novice Hurdle. Galway Racing Festival, Ballybrit, Galway. Picture credit: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh did what they did on the opening evening of the Galway Festival as Long Dog rewarded favourite backers in the Topaz Novice Hurdle.

Bachasson had got the formidable duo on the scoreboard at the first time of asking on Monday and in Long Dog they look to have another potential Cheltenham candidate - although he gave his backers a slight scare along the way.

Always prominent just off the shoulder of Three Stars, Walsh's mount took two out with a slight advantage, but was far from fluent in doing so.

Walsh was never flustered, however, and he charged clear going to the last, taking that flight well before grinding out a 10-length success.

Mullins said of the winner, who was returned at 1-2: "Ruby thought after the race that he should go up in trip and I loved the way he galloped all the way to the line.

"After the mistake he made, and to go up the hill the way he did, screamed that he needs a trip. I'm more than pleased with the way he responded to the mistake.

"This horse and the one last night (Bachasson) are two really good novices for this time of year."

Empresario produced a performance full of guts to take the Latin Quarter Beginners Chase.

Matthew Smith's 12-1 chance was given a fine ride from the front by Mark Enright, at one stage holding a big advantage on the field.

As the pack closed he looked like being swallowed but dug deep to hold all-comers, passing the line two lengths ahead of Guitar Pete.

Smith said: "His experience stood to him, and he jumped brilliant. Mark gave him a great ride. It's great to get a winner here, and that's my first at the Festival although I've only had a few runners.

"He wasn't doing a stroke in front but when the other horses came to him, he kept on well. He's entered up on Sunday, and we'll have to have a look at it."

Now Or Never routed the opposition in the Topaz E.B.F. Fillies Maiden.

The Michael O'Callaghan-trained youngster holds some smart entries and showed why in building on the promise of her debut second at Fairyhouse last month.

Rocketing away off the turn, the daughter of Bushranger was five and a half lengths too good for favourite Simannka.

O'Callaghan said of the 6-1 winner: "I always thought a lot of her, and she has big entries. She's in the Moyglare and the Debutante. She's a very nice filly.

"She appreciated a bit of juice in the ground as she's big, and anything she does this year will be a bonus.

"She travelled well, and stays seven furlongs in Galway, so a mile should be no problem. She's well very bred as she's out of a sister to Dream Ahead, and she is just short of 16 hands high."

Ibergman stayed on best of all in the E.B.F. Maiden to make it two days to remember for Sheila Lavery.

The County Meath trainer struck with her first runner at the Festival on Monday with Romiac and just 24 hours later repeated the trick with 8-1 chance Ibergman under Ronan Whelan, accounting for B Cosmos by a length.

Lavery said: "I think a few of my horses just needed a bit of cut in the ground. She's a lovely-actioned filly, but may have been finding the ground just a bit too fast.

"A lot of my horses have been getting bad draws and I'd like to thank Eddie Lynam for his advice. He said don't try to beat your draw and just ride your race."

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