Russell lands double to extend lead in race for jockeys' crown
Another day, another double for Davy Russell as the Cork pilot continued his fine form with a brace at Fairyhouse yesterday to tighten his grip on the Irish jump jockeys' championship.
Nicole's Milan justified 9/10 favouritism in the handicap chase for Russell and trainer Sean Aherne, while earlier the two-time champion jockey had steered the Gordon Elliott-trained Pat's Oscar (4/1) to a comfortable handicap hurdle success.
The opening mares maiden hurdle was taken by Champayne Lady (9/4), which may have booked her place at next month's Cheltenham Festival after picking up well in the hands of Denis O'Regan.
Alan Fleming's charge tracked 6/4 favourite Moonlight Escape before jumping upsides at the last to score by two-and-a-half lengths with the Curragh handler confident that the mare will improve on better ground.
"Owners Barry and Rory Connell are thinking of going for the Mares Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham. They will have a bit of fun and are entitled to go there with her," Fleming said.
"Denis said she will be better on better ground but she handled it alright.
"She showed a bit of class there today. We'll have a small team going to Cheltenham but once we bring them there in top shape that's all that matters."
It was a also a good day for Tipperary trainer/jockey Denis Hogan, who rode the well-backed Samson Bill (16/1 to 5/1) to a wide-margin victory in the 2m beginner chase.
Disputing the lead with stable companion Mister Butler (50/1) at the second last, that rival fell before Samson Bill collared long-time leader Bold Sky at the final fence en route to a smooth 13-length success, much to Hogan's delight.
"I was gutted when this meeting was cancelled a month ago, and that was the reason why!
"It's great to have somewhere to go with these horses. It's for horses rated 109 or less over hurdles, and they are very important for me and my owners," he said.
"Without this race I'd have to race against maybe a 150 horse. It's great that HRI are putting on more of these races and, if they put on more, then I can keep more owners in the game."
Willie Mullins was also on target with Force Of Forces (8/11 favourite) in the 2m4f maiden hurdle while Derek O'Connor followed up his recent Irish Gold Cup success with Edwulf to take the concluding maiden hunters chase with Allannahs Gold (4/1) for Declan Queally.