Saturday 17 March 2018

Walsh left to toast Jack's 'bit of luck'

Swincombe Flame ridden by Richard Johnson on the way to winning at Kempton
Swincombe Flame ridden by Richard Johnson on the way to winning at Kempton

Thomas Kelly

There was agony for backers of Harpsy Cord in the Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase at Limerick as, having led all the way, he came down at the last fence when five lengths clear.

That left course specialist Jack Absolute (16/1) in front and he stayed on to hold off Tullintain. It was not what Harpsy Cord deserved as he had jumped brilliantly in the hands of Keith Donoghue, but he got in too tight to the final fence to gift victory to John Walsh's nine-year-old in the hands of Brian O'Connell.

Walsh said: "That's his eighth win and his sixth around here so it's definitely a case of horses for courses. You can't beat a bit of luck!"

Later on the card, Katie Walsh was feared to have suffered a shoulder injury when Pocketfullapennies came down at the seventh-last in the Earl of Harrington Memorial Maiden Hunters Chase, but she later tweeted she was "fine just sore!!"

That race was a case of survival of the fittest as just three of the 16 runners which started managed to finish and, when it was done, Goonyella was the one who emerged victorious for Jim Dreaper and Jamie Flynn.

The 11/2 shot rounded off a fine day for the Ann and Alan Potts Partnership, which had earlier seen Sizing Europe win at Leopardstown, when left clear at the third last as Castleview Mills and Clount's Native both fell.

It was a measure of the race's chaos that Thetalkinisover refused at the last but jumped it on the second attempt to finish third at 25/1 behind 33/1 shot Survival in second.

Prince De Beauchene, ante-post favourite for last season's Grand National before injury intervened, made a successful reappearance in the second race on the card, the Woodlands House Hotel Hurdle.

The Graham Wylie-owned nine-year-old had his last start in the Bobbyjo Chase in February but despite the testing conditions, he looked in control throughout.

Trainer Willie Mullins attempted to replace his nephew Emmet Mullins in the saddle with his son, Patrick, who still needs one more victory to break the record for the number of winners in a calendar year by an amateur, but the Limerick stewards vetoed the move.

Emmet Mullins tracked Clonbanan Lad for much of the race before taking up the running half a mile from home. The 3/1 shot then cruised to a three-and-a-quarter-length victory over Venture Capital.

"He was very impressive and he was always going very easy," Mullins said. "He travelled and jumped great. He got free for the first time turning in. I'd imagine Aintree is the plan for him now and hopefully he will get there in one piece."

It was a good day for another Walsh as 20-year-old Conor enjoyed his first career success aboard Sacre Malta in the Limerick Racecourse Vets Handicap Hurdle.

However many more the Wexford youngster gets in his career, they are unlikely to be as comfortable as this one as his mount moved into the lead after the third-last flight and finished with 15 lengths to spare over Billybuster to win at odds of 8/1.

Irish Independent

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