Ride of the weekend
Brian Hayes on Viking Splash at Gowran Park on Saturday
Not only was Viking Splash's win in the hunter chase John 'Shark' Hanlon's first over fences in Ireland, it was also Rosscarbery native Hayes' debut success over jumps on the track. You wouldn't have thought it.
Hayes popped his mount off in front from flag-fall, began turning the screw half-a-mile out, and settled the contest by securing two fine leaps at the third- and second-last fences.
With the race in the bag, he showed excellent composure to pop the final fence with due caution. You'd struggle to find a more complete performance from any of the professionals over the weekend.
Noel Meade winning with Dilshaan's Prize at Naas
Despite Dilshaan's Prize not having run since winning at Listowel in September, Meade produced the former Flat racer in mint condition to score on slow ground yesterday.
Paul Carberry's mount quickened up well at the second-last, and had enough in reserve to repel the persistent challenge of the runner-up at the death.
Dr Whizz in the handicap chase at Gowran Park on Saturday
JP McManus' charge was bidding for a first win since 2009, and travelled easily to the third-last in the handicap chase alongside the eventual winner The Sneezer, at which point he clipped the top of the fence and fell. The wait goes on.
A tie between Eric's Charm and Brian Harding
The former, at 13 years of age and one of the most popular and durable old chasers in the game, was killed at Newbury on Saturday, while Brian Harding fractured his right arm at Kelso shortly after winning on Skippers Brig. It was the second time in less than a year that the veteran rider suffered the same injury at the Scottish venue.
Potential star -- Rathlin
Another one for Gigginstown House Stud's growing team of chasing prospects. The Philip Rothwell-trained six-year-old built on the promise of his Clonmel hurdling debut to score in authoritative fashion at Gowran Park. He looks bound for the top.
An eye on the titles
Paul Townend's weekend haul of three saw him stretch his lead over Davy Russell in the jockeys' table to nine.
Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud earned twice as much prize money over the two days as JP McManus, the current leader in the owners' equivalent, but the Limerick man remains a healthy €226,000 up.
The decision of the Wolverhampton stewards not to void a farcical two-mile contest on Friday night, which saw some runners fail to complete the course because they were ordered to pull up by flag men as an injured horse was being tended to.
When a similar incident happened at Dundalk last October, the men on duty acknowledged that the only sensible and fair thing to do was scratch the result. How the Wolverhampton regulators came to any other conclusion is a mystery.
Today: Saturday's Paddy Power Imperial Cup entries.
Tomorrow: Cheltenham preview nights at Corrin Mart Centre, Fermoy, Co Cork; Leopardstown racecourse, Co Dublin; Skelper Quane's Bar, Blennerville, Co Kerry & Christy's Bar, Arklow, Co Wicklow.
Wednesday: Six-day entries for day one of Cheltenham.
Thursday: Racing at Clonmel, plus up-to-date entries for Cheltenham's Wednesday card.
Friday: The Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown.