Ruby reigns in Killarney feature
The championship-winning team of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh claimed the featured conditions chase with gutsy grey Ballycasey at a rain-softened Killarney last night.
As the continous rain turned the McSweeney Arms Hotel An Riocht Chase into a bigger stamina test than expected, the Rich Ricci-owned ten-year-old made every post a winning one in the two-and-a-half-mile contest for his 11th career success.
The 9/4 second favourite jumped well for Walsh and had most of the field beaten turning for home. Market leader Woodland Opera (10/11) tried to close in up the straight but the recent Punchestown winner looked beaten when falling at the second-last, and this enabled to coast home 14 lengths clear of Rock The World.
The runner-up was carrying the colours of JP McManus for the first time and the legendary Limerick owner enjoyed a very profitable night with three winners, all trained by different trainers.
First up for McManus was the victory of the Joseph O'Brien-trained Plinth after a thrilling finish to the Kelly Brothers Sliabh Luachra Handicap Hurdle over two miles, four furlongs.
The seven-year-old was prominent throughout in the hands of Mark Walsh along with the Gordon Elliott-trained Flaxen Flare. The latter led under Jack Kennedy for most of the journey but had Plinth (16/1) in hot pursuit all the way up the straight.
However, the leader made a mistake at the last and Kennedy lost his whip soon after. Walsh seized his chance and drove his partner into the lead close home to win by a nose.
The second winner in the famous green and gold colours came courtesy of Mon Lino (6/1) in the handicap hurdle over two miles and six furlongs.
The Paul Nolan-trained gelding was held up just off the pace set by Ah Littleluck, before Jody McGarvey sent the five-year-old to challenge Definite Soldier at the second last flight, staying on doggedly to win by two lengths.
The McManus hat-trick was completed by Auvergnat in the night's other big race, the Finbarr Slattery Memorial Killarney National Handicap Chase. Enda Bolger's charge was installed 2/1 favourite and his backers would have been pleased with themselves for most of the three-and-a-quarter mile journey as he travelled so well for Walsh.
The owner's retained jockey sent him to the front at the second last and the market leader skipped clear to oblige by three and a half lengths from Kansas City Chief.
Elsewhere, last night's fixture at Windsor was abandoned after four races when an inspection committee decided the bend was unsafe.
Earlier on the card a horse had slipped on the bend but managed to stay on its feet and during the next two races, which were on the straight course, remedial work was carried out to try and make the ground safer.
However, a delegation of jockeys came to the conclusion that the bend, which had been watered along with the whole course before the meeting, was unsafe to continue.