Tuesday 20 February 2018

Geraghty doubles up as 'Lough' upsets home favourite to strike Gold for Lee

Barry Geraghty: great day Picture credit: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE
Barry Geraghty: great day Picture credit: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE

Thomas Kelly

British raider Kylemore Lough claimed Grade One glory for Kerry Lee in the featured Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse yesterday.

The Herefordshire-based trainer has enjoyed a fantastic first season, having taken over the licence from her father Richard, most notably landing the Coral Welsh Grand National with Mountainous.

Kylemore Lough (7/4) has been another of the stable's stars, winning four of his five previous starts over fences, but he faced a sharp rise in class in this two-and-a-half-mile feature.

Racing in the hands of Barry Geraghty, Kylemore Lough jumped smoothly and tracked hot favourite Outlander and Bryan Cooper into the home straight.

There was little to choose between the market principals jumping the final fence, but Lee's charge had more to give on the run-in and galloped on for a one-length success.

The Willie Mullins-trained Outlander ran a perfectly respectable race in second, turning out just 10 days after falling in the JLT Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Geraghty was completing a Grade One double having earlier landed the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final aboard Jer's Girl.

Lee said: "This is my first Grade One runner and my first runner in Ireland. It's my 22nd winner of the season. I have to give a massive mention to Jamie (Moore) who has put in a lot of work on this horse at home and I'm sorry that he couldn't ride him today (injured). Five wins on the bounce is a fantastic achievement, and I'd say it will be Punchestown next, probably over two miles. He's quite versatile distance-wise at two miles or two-and-a-half.

"Potentially we could be looking at anything next year. We've always thought where is the ceiling and we don't know. We'll certainly be aiming for the stars and we'll see what happens. I think he's a class horse that isn't ground-dependent."

Jer's Girl ran out a most impressive winner of the Novice Hurdle Championship Final. A Listed winner at Aintree earlier in the season, the four-year-old was subsequently touched off by Triumph Hurdle runner-up Apple's Jade at Leopardstown before returning to Foxrock to finish fifth in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle.

Carrying the colours of JP McManus for the first time, Gavin Cromwell's filly was the 3/1 favourite in the hands of Geraghty.

Ridden less aggressively than has been the case in her previous starts, Jer's Girl settled well in midfield before making good headway to close on the leaders after jumping the third flight from the finish.

She quickened up to lead after the second-last and powered clear for a 13-length success. British raider Jessber's Dream narrowly beat Asthuria to the runner-up spot. Cromwell was over the moon to secure his first victory at the highest level.

He said: "I'm in shock and she's done it so well. I wasn't worried about the two-and-a-half miles, particularly as it isn't bottomless ground.

"All her form is solid but you just don't know about a juvenile taking on the older horses. Punchestown has to be part of the plans."

Acapella Bourgeois ran out a tremendously game winner of the Novice Hurdle. The Sandra Hughes-trained six-year-old had to concede weight to each of his 11 rivals following a Grade Two triumph at Thurles last month and was sent off at 5/1 in the hands of Jonathan Burke.

Having made most of the running on his latest appearance, it was no surprise to see Acapella Bourgeois ridden positively once more and he remained in the lead rounding the home turn.

Thurles runner-up Nambour drew alongside after jumping the final flight and the two fought it out all the way to the line, with the winner prevailing by a head.

Hughes said: "He does it the hard way having to make the running but he's got a huge stride. If you impede him in any way he can't use it but he was able to use it today. Johnny just gave him a breather and kicked when he needed to and just kept going."

Paul Townend also collected a double on the card. Dollar And A Dream got back on the winning trail for the jockey and trainer Tony Martin in the Gleesons Butchers Novice Handicap Hurdle.

Townend completed his brace aboard Solita in the BoyleSports Novice Handicap Chase, which forged clear to seal a four-and-a-half-length success.

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