Rockyaboya gets Mullins in the groove
ON a day when it looked as if it would be one of those rare occasions that Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh were out of luck, the pair rocked back by landing the feature event at Leopardstown.
The Mullins-Walsh combination endured a few disappointing results on the opening day and the frustration continued as Ivan Grozny, Arvika Ligeonniere and Moyle Park all failed to justify favouritism. However, Mullins and Walsh enjoyed a welcome change of luck as Rockyaboya clung on in a pulsating renewal of the Paddy Power Chase.
With over €100,000 on offer for the winner, a huge field of 28 went to post for the fiercely competitive handicap, with Rockyaboya a 7/1 shot which travelled strongly throughout and was produced to lead at the final fence.
AP McCoy and 6/1 favourite Cause Of Causes found top gear on the run-in and looked like claiming the Mullins runner, as McCoy had done in the first race, but Rockyaboya held on by a short-head. The winner is owned by the trainer's son, Patrick, who said: "I was a lot more nervous standing on the ground."
Earlier, McCoy got one over on Walsh aboard the Aidan O'Brien-trained Plinth (3/1) which claimed a last-gasp victory at the expense of his great friend and rival in the opening juvenile hurdle.
Mullins' French recruit Ivan Grozny was all the rage for the two-mile contest and the even-money favourite moved sweetly through the race in the hands of Walsh.
The market leader quickened to lead approaching the final flight, but McCoy and O'Brien's decent Flat runner had him in their sights. Ivan Grozny looked set to hold on, but in the dying strides the JP McManus-owned Plinth got up by a head.
Trainer John 'Shark' Hanlon plans to appeal against the result of the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase after Hidden Cyclone was narrowly denied by Tony Martin's Benefficient.
The two fought out a tremendous finish to the Grade One feature, along with favourite Arvika Ligeonniere, with Benefficient appearing to hamper Hidden Cyclone in the closing stages. The Leopardstown stewards deliberated over the result, but ruled the placings should remain unaltered, which Hanlon feels was the wrong call.
"I've no doubt if the two horses had run straight to the line, our horse would have been in front and a lot of people in Leopardstown agreed with me," said the trainer. It was another surprise victory for Benefficient, which belied his 9/1 price in the hands of Bryan Cooper.
Moyle Park was the third Mullins 'jolly' to suffer defeat as he weakened tamely into third behind The Tullow Tank in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle. Despite winning the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse, The Tullow Tank started 9/4 second favourite as punters backed Moyle Park into 6/5.
Moyle Park travelled best into the straight, but emptied quickly under Walsh and The Tullow Tank was in front jumping the final flight. Philip Fenton's star youngster galloped all the way to the line to score comfortably in the hands of Danny Mullins.
Gordon Elliott was the man to follow at the Foxrock venue as he racked up a hat-trick, initiated by the success of Double Irish (16/1) which trounced his opponents in the Paddy Power Maiden Hurdle.
Elliott doubled up for the day as 10/1 shot Rocky Wednesday claimed victory in the handicap hurdle over two miles.
Lastoftheleaders led into the final flight, but Rocky Wednesday finished best under Robbie Colgan to take top honours by two and a quarter lengths.
And just for good measure, Elliott completed a treble in the concluding bumper over two-and-a-half miles as 15/8 favourite No More Heroes blitzed his rivals by upwards of 39 lengths.
Ridden by Stephen Clements, the Dromahane point-to-point winner hit the front approaching the straight and galloped relentlessly clear of Bosman Rule.