Misery for jocked-off Moore as Soul scores
Twelve months ago, Jonathan Moore retired from this fixture unable to remove the grin from his young face.
The Co Wexford rider had stepped in to partner Empire Of Dirt to success in the €100,000 handicap chase. Yesterday's Foxrock fare proved that if racing giveth, racing taketh away.
Moore's mishap in a dramatic renewal of that event - Lake Takapuna faded after a blunder at the last - was one thing. However, to be jocked off Ice Cold Soul, which would snare the big hurdle event on a Coral-sponsored card, was a sickener.
The stewards have no time for sentiment and whacked Moore with a two-day ban for interfering with the Mikey Fogarty-ridden The Paparrazi Kid, which unseated, while he was struggling to keep his balance after Lake Takapuna's blunder.
Trainer Noel Meade had sympathy for Moore but when De Name Escapes Me was scratched, it freed up stable rider Sean Flanagan to ride Ice Cold Soul, a 20/1 chance. That was about as complicated as it got for Flanagan, the full brother to Outlander always prominent and coming home in front of the Tony Martin-trained pair, Tudor City and Golden Spear.
Those who thought that Martin's Melbourne Cup-runner up Heartbreak City merely had to avoid ill-luck to win were misplaced. He had every chance and could only manage eighth.
Meade said: "This has been the plan all along. He got a bit of a leg last year after he won here and it took a bit of time getting him back. He got into all sorts of trouble here at Christmas.
"Everything went well and he was in the perfect position the whole way. He got a beautiful ride, jumped great and stayed well. I'd say the plan will be either the County Hurdle or Coral Cup.
"It's been working great with Sean. He's a very good rider and his confidence is improving every day. Paul (Carberry) recommended him in the beginning. He said, 'I've never seen him do anything wrong, I don't think you'll get anyone better.'
"I feel sorry for Jonathan because he was meant to ride but Sean is the No 1."
Gigginstown won that and took the chase too, 7/2 favourite A Toi Phil getting up near the wire under Jack Kennedy, who continued his sensational recent run for Gordon Elliott. Hampered coming into the straight, the novice had just enough gas to reel in the gallant Stellar Notion.
Seven Grade A handicap chases have been run in Ireland this season, the score now Gordon Elliott 7, everyone else 0. And he is not finished yet, quipping: "There are a few more of them!"
He added: "Jack said he was flat-out the whole way. I'd say because it was his first run in a handicap he was a bit novicey. I thought he had a nice mark but you always worry about lack of experience.
"In the Drinmore he got in behind a few, backed off and was a bit cowardly. We have Cheltenham as an option but he's still a novice so we might miss that and keep him at home. There is plenty of good prize-money at home."
The class act of the afternoon was Yorkhill, though he seems to be nearly as quirky as he is brilliant. Jumping left and apparently doing little in front, he did no more than what was expected in a one-and-a-quarter-length success at 1/5 in the novice chase, after which he was quite absurdly cut in price for the JLT Chase.
Trainer Willie Mullins admitted: "He takes a good grip. He jumps a bit left but that suits around here. Ruby (Walsh) rode him with confidence but he was obviously very strong when he took up the running going into the back straight.
"His pedigree and everything suggests he could go out in trip but whether he's too strong to go a longer trip or not I don't know."
Toe The Line won the mares' maiden hurdle at 5/1, trainer John Kiely taking it for the second year running, while 4/1 scorer Justmemyselfandi had Liz Doyle thinking of better things when he tackles a fence.
Jonathan Moore, conversely, was just thinking of better days to come - minus two of them.