Thursday 13 December 2018

'Goose' flies home to cap Lynch double

Trainer Tom Taaffe. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Tom Taaffe. Photo: Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Goose Man gave favourite-backers a bit of a scare before eventually prevailing in the Novice Chase at Down Royal yesterday.

The race began in earnest when Andrew Lynch moved Goose Man up to challenge Robin Des Mana at the second-last, but he got it wrong and Robin Des Mana pinched another length or two.

Tom Taaffe's favourite was back on an even keel by the final fence, though, and jumped it better before staying on to beat Robin Des Mana by a length and three-quarters.

Taaffe said: "I brought him back to two (miles) because he has learned how to put his feet under him and gallop, which he didn't a year ago.

"I'm very happy with that. The second-last was as good as a fall. I love the way he picked back up again and came back on ground that they say is unbelievably soft."

The Cheltenham Festival could be on the agenda, with Taaffe adding: "He'll have an entry in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap (Chase) over two miles five. He's going the right way and he's a horse I like. It's great to win over two when he's really a three-miler. Better ground will suit him but I'm not saying good ground."

Lynch followed up on Celtic Rising in the Sean Graham Bookmakers Maiden Hurdle.

Vecheka set a breakneck pace but his race was run before four flights from the finish, where Celtic Rising assumed control and it was plain sailing for the 7/4 favourite from that point.

Gun Digger proved much too strong for his rivals in the Novice Hurdle, while Benarty Hill (8/1) stayed on best of all to beat favourite Goldmineinthesky by 11 lengths in the Handicap Chase.

Harrie was backed as if defeat was out of the question in the Flat Race, but Willie Mullins' French import had no answer when Well Set Up stormed by.

The Mark Fahey-trained 20/1 shot showed good acceleration in the testing conditions to make a winning debut by an impressive 11 lengths.

Elsewhere, there is a 40-strong Irish representation among 105 entries for the Aintree Grand National on April 14.

Willie Mullins has 10 entries, including Ladbrokes Trophy hero Total Recall, while Gordon Elliott is also responsible for 10 possibles, with Outlander among them. Elliott can also call upon last year's runner-up Cause Of Causes, whose owner JP McManus may have his colours carried by the Tony Martin-trained Anibale Fly and Jonjo O'Neill's Minella Rocco.

Mouse Morris has former Irish National winners Thunder And Roses and Rogue Angel in contention, and Gavin Cromwell's Welsh National victor Raz De Maree has the option too.

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