Royal earns Cheltenham approval
Jim Dreaper's Royal De La Thinte put himself into the reckoning for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham following his sytlish win in yesterday's Punchestown Hospitality Beginners Chase.
The giant French-bred gelding set out to make all, as he had done on his last start when just reeled in by subsequent Grade One winner Bostons Angel.
He was allowed an easy time of it up front and jockey Andrew Lynch was still motionless on the 9/2 chance as they turned into the straight.
The likes of Alpha Ridge, Ballymak and Some Target all tried to close, but none made any impression as he ran out a 10-length winner.
"A dual point-to-point winner, second in his first beginners chase to subsequent Grade One winner Bostons Angel and a winner today at Punchestown by 10 lengths, marks Royal De La Thinte as something special and we've introduced him into the RSA betting at 25/1," said Stan James' Joe Burke.
Dreaper confirmed that Cheltenham would be on the agenda.
"I've been told by a few people that he is a real 'Dreaper' horse as he is slow but stays going!" he said. "He is a very talented horse, but I went with him to the start today as he refused to start in a point-to-point once. I'll enter him for the RSA Chase and the four-miler at Cheltenham and he may run next in a three-mile conditions race at Naas in a few weeks' time."
Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci suffered two expensive reverses over Christmas with the defeats of Zaidpour and Mikael D'Haguenet, but Blazing Tempo gave them some compensation by winning the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Lombardstown Mares Novice Chase.
Sent off the 9/10 favourite in the Grade Three event, Paul Townend oozed confidence all the way before letting her have an inch of rein to beat Cool Quest by four lengths.
"She jumped better today over the bigger fences and seemed to have more respect for them," Mullins said. "I was very happy with the way she came back to two miles from two and a half, and while I'll try to keep her to mares' races, she'll be entered in the better novice races too."
Luska Lad put up a very brave effort in defeat when narrowly denied by Four Chimneys in the two-mile handicap hurdle.
Having only run two days ago behind Hurricane Fly and Solwhit he had to carry 12st, less his rider's 7lb claim.
He looked like making all the running but the concession of two stone to Willie Austin's charge, ridden by Andrew Leigh and wearing blinkers for the first time, just proved too much.
Edward O'Grady's Jumbo Rio benefited from having his sights lowered in the two-and-a-half-mile conditions hurdle.
Sent off the 13/8 jolly, his task was made easier by the injury mid-race to Mullins' Secant Star. Andrew McNamara never looked unduly worried at any stage and drove him out to beat On The Way Out by an eased-down neck.
"He'll run in the Galmoy Hurdle next but we will avoid Cheltenham as he prefers a flat track. I might send him back to France later in the season too," said O'Grady.
Dermot Weld has enjoyed a profitable Christmas and was on the mark again when Unaccompanied (4/5 favourite) made a winning debut over timber in the Festival Hospitality On Sale 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle.
Smart on the level, the filly brought up a double for Townend and created her own little piece of history by becoming owner Moyglare Stud's first winner over hurdles as their first runner.
"She is potentially a very good dual-purpose mare and although she was a little green jumping the final flight, her jumping was otherwise good," said Weld. "She will obviously now go for a Graded race and we'll see how she goes there. She won as well as expected today."