Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 25 February 2018

Ruby class makes difference

Martin Kelly

Hunting Tower benefited from a great Ruby Walsh drive to battle off King High by half a length in the Edmond Whelan Memorial Handicap Hurdle, the feature race at the concluding stage of the Listowel Festival yesterday.

James Lambe's charge was under pressure from the third last but the Sadler's Wells gelding responded well to Walsh's driving and he was better at the last than King High which was crucial in deciding the outcome. Campbonnais looked likely to play a big role before the straight but he eventually had to settle for third while the pace-setting Queen Of Cool faded back into fourth.

Cecil Mahon, representing Lambe, said: "Ruby gave him some ride -- that's why he is champion. We were afraid of the ground only for that we would have really fancied him. He is a small horse but he is a little tryer. His jumping kept him in it."

Walsh, who later completed a double aboard Laughing Boy for Willie Mullins, commented: "He stuck his head down and he was good and gutsy. Paul's (Carberry) horse (King High) missed the last and my fella ground it out well."

After his big success in the Kerry National with Alpha Beat, Charles Byrnes struck again at the Kerry venue when Jack Cool justified the faith of those that backed him from 5/1 into 2/1 favouritism for the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.

Cnoc Rua still held the call when falling three out leaving Jack Cool in pole position. This he was never going to relinquish and he scored by five lengths from Binocular.

Elsewhere, Dandy Nicholls and Frankie Dettori teamed up for one of the most popular successes in the history of the Ayr Gold Cup as the Thirsk trainer incredibly saddled his sixth winner of the six-furlong dash at the Scottish course.

But it had been touch and go whether Dettori -- winning the race for the second year in a row -- would make it to the course having been unable to take his scheduled flight from Stanstead to Prestwick because he had not taken his passport to the airport with him.

He missed his ride in the second race and then had to be content with second place on the unlucky Ragsah in the Firth Of Clyde Stakes -- but things went like clockwork in the feature as he brought Redford (14/1) with a perfectly-timed run to beat his stable companion Victoire De Lyphar by two and a quarter lengths.

Nicholls trains the winner for Dr Marwan Koukash and said: "I love this race and it is great to have won it again, it is one of the best handicaps in the calendar and Frankie told me when he rode him in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket that the horse would win the Ayr Gold Cup."

At Newbury, meanwhile, Ed McMahon wore a look of vindication as Temple Meads set off a memorable afternoon for the Staffordshire trainer.

McMahon had been despondent after his star two-year-old was too keen for his own good in last month's Gimcrack Stakes, but he made amends in unequivocal fashion in the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes before his stablemate Astrophysical Jet claimed the Dubai Airport World Trophy.

Richard Mullen, who helped Temple Meads (4/1) to win the Super Sprint at this course on an earlier outing, was back in the plate after Jimmy Fortune stepped in at York and the chestnut settled much better this time.

They entered the fray with two furlongs to run and scooted a length and three-quarters clear, reversing the form with Gimcrack runner-up Crown Prosecutor, which was pipped for second by Formosina.

At Newmarket, I Love Me sprung a monster 50/1 shock on her debut in the £200,000 Tattersalls Millions Auction Trophy at Newmarket.

Trained by Andrew Balding, the Cape Cross filly made nearly every yard for a delighted Kirsty Milczarek.

Sunday Independent

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