Ruby Walsh made a winning comeback from injury at Listowel yesterday, but the locals at the track were more excited about the winner of the staying maiden hurdle.
Walsh, who fractured an ankle in a nasty fall in the Galway Hurdle last month, had to work hard in the testing conditions to get hot favourite Rattan home in front in the Kerrymaid Hurdle.
Miley Shah looked like making all the running, but he was far from fluent at the last two flights and this opened the door for the Willie Mullins-trained gelding. Rattan met the last hurdle running and got the momentum needed for him to prevail by a head in a tight finish.
"I thought 4/9 shots were supposed to be easier than that," quipped Walsh, while Mullins added: "It is nice to have Ruby back and in good form."
However, local punters were more interested in the outcome of the Charleville Cheese Maiden Hurdle over three miles as they plunged on Roadtoabbeyfeale, trained by John Supple who hails from nearby Ballyduff and is based in Abbeyfeale.
Supple's seven-year-old was backed from 7/1 all the way into 10/3 and travelled well in the pack for much of the contest. Several had a chance turning in, and it was at this point that jockey Eddie O'Connell kicked Roadtoabbeyfeale on and his partner kept galloping to win by over four lengths from Kilfrehanstar with 2/1 favourite Minella For Value back in third.
"That's a relief -- he has been a bit unlucky once or twice," said Supple. "With the testing ground I didn't really know how he would handle it, but I've learned that I have a winter horse on my hands. He will probably go for a three-mile novice now and it won't be long before he'll go chasing."
Another jockey to make a winning comeback was last season's champion conditional Paddy Mangan, who returned from a four-month absence to partner Fair Dilemma to capture the beginners' chase for his father Jimmy.
Leading all the way, Fair Dilemma jumped well in the main and while he got in a bit tight to the final fence, he still stayed on well to keep Mackeys Forge at bay by two lengths. "That was great," said Mangan. "I did my cruciate ligament last Christmas, but only had the operation on May 25."
Torphichen took the featured Dawn Milk Handicap Chase to complete a 32/1 double for his owner JP McManus and rider Mark Walsh. Edward O'Grady's 2/1 favourite was challenging Ordinary Man at the second-last fence when that rival came down, leaving Torphichen to come home 26 lengths clear of Mossey Joe.
Walsh had initiated his brace for McManus aboard the Pat Flynn-trained Galianna which battled well to take the Low Low EBF Mares Handicap Hurdle.
Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus, said afterwards: "She has been knocking on the door a few times and she coped well with the conditions."
Eugene O'Sullivan's Habesh made it third time lucky over hurdles as he took the opening juvenile hurdle, while the closing bumper went to the John Nallen-trained Minella Reception in the hands of James 'Corky' Carroll.