Gitane seals Naas brace for 'dream team'
Gitane Du Berlais could have earned a trip to France after making it count from the front to claim the featured BBA Ireland Opera Hat Mares Chase at Naas.
Trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh, the six-year-old mare jumped pretty soundly in the Listed race over two miles and the 6/5 favourite was not especially hard-pressed to deny I'm All You Need by seven lengths.
Carrigmoorna Rock suffered a heavy fall at the second-last under Phillip Enright and sadly Robert Tyner's Grade Three-winning hurdler was fatally injured.
As for Gitane Du Berlais, Patrick Mullins - son and assistant to his father - said: "Ruby was very happy with her, and she was entitled to do that at the weights.
"She's had a difficult season so far, and these mares' races are a good initiative. She's travelled to France before, and we may look for something there again."
As luck would have it, Tyner received a timely pick-me-up in the very next race as his JP McManus-owned Fairly Legal picked off Call It Magic before the last and was kept up to his work to land the two mile, three-furlong maiden hurdle.
The front two pulled clear of a toiling Haymount after the third last and had the race to themselves. Mark Walsh was virtually motionless on Fairly Legal and the 7/4 favourite took the initiative before the last to put four-and-a-half lengths between him and runner-up Call It Magic at the line.
Earlier, the Mullins-Walsh dream team initiated a double when Babbling Stream recorded a pleasing victory on his hurdling debut.
The five-year-old is under consideration for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle on March 15 after he pulled 12 lengths clear of The Granson in opening maiden hurdle. "That was much more like what we have been expecting," Mullins Jnr said. "He jumped fantastic and he showed a great turn of foot up the straight - he was very impressive.
"He's entered in the Supreme Novices and is for sale. He's by Authorized, like Nichols Canyon, and should be a good dual-purpose horse."
Henry de Bromhead has Aintree in mind for Alisier D'Irlande after he excelled in the beginners chase over two miles. The 4/6 favourite - a faller on his chasing bow at Fairyhouse last month - looked exciting in the hands of Andrew Lynch, readily accounting for Never Enough Time by 17 lengths.
"I'd say we'll have to stick to left-handed tracks," De Bromhead said. "He's entered in the Arkle at Cheltenham but that would seem a big step and I'll have to talk to Roger (Brookhouse, owner).
"There is a winners-of-two race at Leopardstown in three weeks' time, and he could run at Aintree in the Maghull. He's very exciting and I'm lucky to have him."
There was a welcome winner for Tom Taaffe as the Gold Cup-winning handler saw his Rogue Trader land a mini-gamble in the two-mile handicap chases. Despite jumping the second-last in sixth position, Rogue Trader rallied strongly under Jody McGarvey to justify strong support in the market and on course (13/2 to 11/2). At the line, the McManus-owned gelding was a length-and-a-half in front of runner-up Marvellous Moment.
The two-mile handicap hurdle went to Jim Dreaper's Mr Cosmpolitan under amateur rider James Flynn, while the bumper saw a 1-2 for Gigginstown House Stud as Noel Meade's A Genie in Abottle edged out fellow 2/1 joint-favourite Blood Crazed Tiger in the hands of Katie Walsh.