LOCAL trainer Noel Meade may not have the strength in depth that saw him crowned champion trainer on several occasions, but in Realt Dubh he has an exciting prospect which showed his star qualities at Fairyhouse yesterday.
The seven-year-old was winning his third Grade One race of the season in claiming the Powers Gold Cup and while this one may have been slightly more fortuitous than his two previous wins at Leopardstown earlier in the season, Meade was quick to point out that jumping is the name of the game.
Many will feel that Paul Nolan's Noble Prince was about to follow up his win at the Cheltenham Festival as Tony McCoy appeared to have things under control at the head of affairs heading to the second-last fence.
However, he met it all wrong and took a heavy fall, leaving Paul Carberry to coast home 11 lengths clear on the 9/2 chance ahead of Loosen My Load. Yet again, Mikael D'Haguenet disappointed and he looks a shadow of his former self.
It will have been a bittersweet success for owner Derek Sharkey as his father Des owns Noble Prince. "The fences are there to be jumped," said Meade.
"We'll see how he comes out of this before deciding if we go for the two-mile novice at Punchestown. Paul said the ground at Cheltenham was too tacky, and he got caught in it and lost his action. The ground suited him much better today."
Carberry had earlier arrived late on the scene to win the Family Day at Fairyhouse Novice Handicap Hurdle on Tony Martin's Nearest The Pin (10/1).
"We've always thought he was a good horse and he's a super leaper. Hopefully he'll make a proper chaser some day. He's had a few problems but seems to go on any ground and will stay further," said Martin.
Davy Russell has not given up hope of being crowned champion jockey and gave Knockfierna a fantastic ride to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final, the first leg of a double.
A winner of the three previous races, the 6/1 chance pounced on Golden Sunbird after the last.
Winning trainer Charles Byrnes said: "She's obviously very good. She tied up badly at Limerick last time but her previous run at Cork was much better and based on that we were hopeful today. It's unlikely she'll go to Punchestown, and we'll send her over fences next season."
Russell later completed his double when capturing the beginners' chase aboard 6/4 favourite Campbonnais, also trained by Byrnes.
Baracas seemed to relish the quicker ground as he returned from a five-month lay-off to spring a big surprise in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle Series Final.
Mark Bolger delivered his challenge two out and Eoin Griffin's 33/1 shot did no favours to Sir Vincent by jumping right at the last before holding him by a length and a quarter
Barry Geraghty and Bryan Cooper missed their final rides at the meeting after being injured in this contest. Geraghty aggravated a shoulder injury when Good Time Donie fell six out, bringing down the Cooper-ridden Raz De Maree.
Geraghty misses the Irish Grand National through suspension, but hopes to be fully fit for the Punchestown Festival, which starts on May 3.
Cooper, however, is expected to return to action today -- he is booked to ride 25/1 shot Sarteano in the National. One jockey who will miss the race is Adrian Heskin. He was due to partner A New Story, but fractured his right collarbone in a fall from Huntmaster in the beginners' chase.
The Willie Mullins-trained Sicilian Secret (11/10 favourite) finally opened his account over timber in the opening maiden hurdle.
The eight-year-old had finished second four times previously but never looked in any danger for Ruby Walsh.
"That was not before time. Both Ruby and David Casey, who has ridden him before, said he needs the spring ground. He's very ground-dependent. Although Punchestown is a bit soon, he may go there or otherwise go for a novice chase early in the new season," said Mullins.
Reizovic put a disappointing display at Limerick behind him when taking the bumper in great style. The John Kiely-trained gelding was produced on the outer to lead early in the straight by David Kiely (no relation), and settled the issue in a matter of strides.
The 12/1 chance quickened clear over a furlong out to easily beat Gold Ability (10/1) by four and a half lengths.