Thursday 23 November 2017

Ruby in sparkling form with brilliant four-timer

Damien McElroy

RUBY Walsh was in sparkling form at Fairyhouse yesterday as the champion jockey bounced back from a blank Easter Sunday to complete a brilliant near-57/1 four-timer.

The Kildare rider got the ball rolling by completing an early double for champion trainer Willie Mullins as Cousin Vinny and Mourad landed some decent wagers in the Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle and the Hurdle.

Happier back over the smaller obstacles, Cousin Vinny was opposed strongly in the betting on the opener by Tony McCoy's mount Head Of The Posse, which seemed to be travelling better into the straight.

However, the Irish champion jockey was in no hurry to take on his British counterpart until approaching the final flight, where Cousin Vinny quickly asserted to earn a crack at Punchestown's Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle. Favoured here to the tune of 7lb by their official ratings, the 11/10 winner "did what the handicapper said he should", according to Mullins, who added: "It's nice to get a winner after yesterday."

Cousin Vinny has found Punchestown a lucky course in the past, particularly in his halcyon bumper days, and will be joined in the line-up for the Ladbrokes Grade One event at the Kildare venue by Mourad.

In two minds about risking the gelding in the mud, Mullins was "pleasantly surprised" how well Mourad handled the ground when sailing past front-running Ninetieth Minute and favourite Donnas Palm in the straight. "He goes for the World Hurdle as well," said Mullins. "Mourad hasn't run over three miles yet but I have no doubt he will stay that trip."

In between those races, Hold The Pin, which missed the cut for the Grand National and ended up in the Irish Field Handicap Hurdle, made the most of that enforced change of plan on the part of local trainer Tony Martin. A beaten favourite behind Prince Erik at Leopardstown in January, the Plus Fours Syndicate's 11-year-old made no mistake for Davy Russell when picking off the always prominent Bideford Legend late on.

The Martin yard followed up in the Arkle Bar Novice Handicap Chase as Walsh made all the running on the hot favourite Psycho to augment last month's fluent victory at Clonmel.

Walsh completed his haul when Shuil Aris claimed top honours in the EBF Mares Chase. Paul Nolan's well-backed mare fended off the enthusiastic attentions of Tally Em Up to vindicate 5/2 favouritism.

"Off her hurdles mark she was thrown in getting all the allowances," said the Wexford trainer.

The bookmakers were paying out on a popular victor in the point-to-point championship bumper as Philip Fenton's Last Instalment left his rivals toiling in the colours of sponsor Michael O'Leary.

Irish Independent

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