Perfect Smile helps Carberry go top of pile after treble
Former champion Paul Carberry leapfrogged the season's pacesetter Andrew McNamara at the top of the table (39-38) courtesy of a treble at Punchestown yesterday for his main employers, Noel Meade and Gordon Elliott, who were both busy at Newmarket sales.
The stylish Meath pilot enjoyed the easiest of victories aboard hotpot Perfect Smile in the opening Dobbins Catering Maiden Hurdle for Meade, whose own colours were then carried to success by another favourite, Aitmatov, in the Go Racing In Kildare Hurdle.
Although faced with a mere three rivals, the blinkered Aitmatov had to be roused in earnest by Carberry when both Leblon and Jigalo joined them rounding the last bend, but once they had reached the final flight it was all over bar a fall as Leblon was forced to give best.
Now a victor eight times over timber, German-bred Aitmatov was paying a compliment here to stable companion Donnas Palm, which outpaced him in a tougher contest at Tipperary earlier this month and obliged once more when reverting to the Flat at Galway on Monday.
A Meade-Carberry treble seemed in the offing when Lean Times began to close on the leader Zagman running to the last in the Madigans Bar Maiden Hurdle, only to be pipped in the dying strides by a determined Nicky O'Shea on 33/1 chance Ferris Bueller.
Acquired after a point-to-point success by Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud, whose colours were also sported by Davy Russell's mount Zagman, this shock scorer, which gave O'Shea a welcome change of luck after spells on the sidelines through injury, is highly regarded by trainer Conor O'Dwyer.
Carberry soon got back in the winning vein, poaching a clear lead after two out with Elliott's 8/1 chance Fool's Wildcat in the Five Day Festival Handicap Hurdle to prevail narrowly from Bale O'Shea, whose connections had been in business previously as Andrew Lynch's persistence paid off for the favourite Turner Brown following a keen duel with Khayar for the Active Retirement Days Handicap Hurdle prize.
Russell recorded his initial success since resuming after fracturing his leg in Listowel when Paul Nolan's charge Far Away So Close followed up a maiden hurdle breakthrough in Tipperary by justifying favouritism in the Tote Sports Lounge Novice Hurdle.
A couple of sketchy jumps in the last mile, most notably when getting too close to the final obstacle, allowed Hazeymm -- with McNamara up -- to take over in front early on the run-in, only to be reeled in and passed close to home by the Cork rider in the O'Leary colours.
A morning gamble on Liz Doyle's French-bred Cheltenian in the bumper came unstuck when his tendency to run wide in the straight combined with the tenacity of the Prendergast family's front-running Wandering Aengus scuttled the coup.