Saturday 21 April 2018

Winters eyes summer prizes for versatile Fitz

Shane Butler parts company with Medinah Gold at the last during the Maiden Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
Shane Butler parts company with Medinah Gold at the last during the Maiden Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

Thomas Kelly

REBEL FITZ is set for a busy summer after capitalising on Ballycasey's fall to lift the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse.

A mixed bag such as the Grimes Hurdle at Fairyhouse in July and the Galway Plate over fences two weeks later could be on the cards for the versatile and talented nine-year-old.

Michael Winters' charge enjoyed a profitable summer in 2013 and there was a lot to like about his 16th victory from 26 starts, which took his earnings past the €430,000 mark.

Ballycasey attempted to make all the running for trainer Willie Mullins and was still in front when coming down at the second last, following his stablemate Mozoltov, which had taken a tumble just after halfway.

That left Rebel Fitz (2/1) in the lead under Barry Geraghty and he jumped the last in style to beat his remaining rival Bright New Dawn readily by 15 lengths.

"He came off the bridle like he did at Mallow (Cork) the last time and he had to stretch at a few fences down the back," said Winters.

"My horses have not been flying for the last six months and I'd say there's more to come from him. We'll give him a couple of weeks off now. We may go for the Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary and the Galway Plate could be a possibility."

The Mullins team had some consolation with the triumph of Daneking (6/1) in the Boylesports Easter Festival Handicap Hurdle.

The lightly raced five-year-old, owned by Rich Ricci, led after jumping the second-last flight to seal victory by three lengths under Paul Townend.

"The ground was a big help, and we'll look at the big two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle at Punchestown," said Mullins. "He's not a chaser so we may look at the Flat for him, although I don't want to fire him up too much as we've been trying to get him settled over hurdles. The hood worked well today."

Lots Of Memories (14/1) turned the INH Stallion Owners EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle Series Final into a procession as he spreadeagled his field.

A Grade Three scorer at Cork in November, the Paul Fahey-trained seven-year-old looked a cut above the opposition as he won easily in the hands of 5lb claimer Shane Butler.

Leading after three out, Lots Of Memories went further and further away to strike by six and a half lengths despite being eased down close home. The winning trainer indicated that a significant rise in grade now awaits the winner.

"We put him away to give him a crack at a decent handicap. He'll go for the Grade One three-mile novice (Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle) at Punchestown now," Fahey said.

The Noel Meade-trained Road To Riches (2/1) ran his rivals into the ground when making all the running in the Coolmore Stud Novice Chase.

Paul Carberry switched to the Gigginstown House Stud runner after stablemate Ned Buntline was withdrawn and dictated affairs on the seven-year-old to win by three and three-quarter lengths.

Meade said: "He's a funny horse, but when he gets his own way he can be good. He's by Gamut and it's possible that he wants that ground. We tried to keep him fresh at home and with it getting near the end of the season it is possible he could go to Punchestown,"

Emperor Of Exmoor (4/1) got off the mark in the Irish Field Maiden Hurdle after three placed efforts when holding Tawseef by a length under Mark Enright.

Trainer Dessie Hughes said: "Hopefully he's good enough to win a novice and the fact that he goes on good ground will be a help. He'll go chasing in the autumn."


David Splaine brought the Adrian McGuinness-trained Pivot Bridge with a smooth run to spring a 25/1 surprise in the Gleeson Butchers Novice Handicap Hurdle to win by three lengths from Desertmore Stream.

"He was on the bridle going to the second last and when I gave him a squeeze he flew in," said Splaine.

"I was on him at Gowran when he won on soft ground and we always thought that he would be better on nice ground."

Moon Racer was a 50/1 stunner for owner-trainer Michael Ronayne in the Tattersalls Ireland George Mernagh Memorial Sales Bumper.

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