Friday 15 December 2017

Taaffe's Argocat makes most of Mikael's mistake

Thomas Kelly

Tom Taaffe's Argocat ran out a wide-margin winner at Limerick where the odds-on Mikael D'Haguenet again let down his supporters in the featured Greenmount Park Novice Chase.

The Willie Mullins-trained gelding was the 8/11 favourite for the Grade Two contest after finally breaking his duck over fences at Punchestown earlier this month, but he and Emmet Mullins hit the turf at one of the fences going down the back straight.

Previous course winner Argocat (9/4) moved sweetly into contention rounding the home turn and swept clear under Andrew McNamara, who could afford to ease down on his mount after a slight mistake at the final fence.

Snooze was eight lengths back in second, just denying Far Away So Close the runner-up spot.

"He has come a long way from winning his two-year-old mile maiden at Newmarket to running on this type of ground over fences," Taaffe said. "He's a resolute and hardy type, though.

"He jumped particularly well, apart from the obvious mistake at the last, but it was good to see him get his legs out so quickly to stand up from the mistake.

"I don't see any benefit to running him between now and Cheltenham in March, especially on more heavy ground, and he'll probably go straight for the Jewson Novices' Chase. The reason I started him off so early over fences this year was to get some better ground for him, and he'll get a little break now."

Eddie Harty's Fahamore came back from an eight-month break with a bang as Niall Madden's mount took the Guinness Handicap Hurdle for the second year running.

The son of Kayf Tara hit the front before the last and the JP McManus-owned 4/1 shot stayed on strongly on the run-in to score by eight lengths from See Double You.

Earlier, Enda Bolger's Love Rory sprang a huge shock in the opening conditions hurdle. The 25/1 shot, which made a winning racecourse debut at Listowel in September, took up the running between the final two flights and stayed on strongly under John Thomas McNamara for five-length success ahead of even-money favourite Umpact.

Davy Russell was aboard the market leader in this one, and the champion jockey's decision to forego Leopardstown failed to yield any dividend as he drew a blank.

As for Love Rory, Bolger is already looking forward to his charge's chasing career. "That was a nice surprise," smiled the winning trainer. "I told JT that there was 800 quid for finishing fourth, so start from there. We always thought he would make a nice chaser and fences will be his forte. Hopefully, he will have a future – and he jumps banks as well!"

Another prospective chaser Futuramic (5/1) easily claimed the Signplus Maiden Hurdle Andrew Lynch as Robbie Colgan pushed the son of Shantou 15 lengths clear of runner-up Best Value.

"He will go chasing now and has the scope for chasing," said Lynch. "He'll have a couple of weeks off first as today's ground was very heavy – he did seem to enjoy it, though, and is improving all the time."

Trainer JJ Mangan teamed up with son Paddy to take the staying maiden hurdle with Kilcrea, while there was a local winner in the Sliabh Luachra handicap Chase as Emmet McNamara's 3/1 favourite Ponmeword landed the spoils in the hands of Rob Jones.

The day finished as it had started, with 9/1 outsider Pumbaa upsetting the odds on Quickpick Vic (4/7) in the bumper. Tony Martin's market leader looked well placed to score, but Rory Kiely drove Pumbaa to the front inside the two-furlong marker and the partnership stayed on strongly to give Sharon Dunphy her first track success.

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