Tuesday 24 April 2018

O'Brien suffers final-flight fall

Joseph O'Brien parts company with Marchese Marconi at the last
Joseph O'Brien parts company with Marchese Marconi at the last

Joseph O'Brien suffered a dramatic final-flight exit from Marchese Marconi as Tony McCoy clinched victory aboard Sir Scorpion in the Gleesons Butchers Novice Handicap Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

O'Brien missed the start of the new Flat season at the Curragh last Sunday, instead riding over hurdles for the first time at Limerick, and was having his second outing over jumps at the County Meath circuit.

Marchese Marconi, trained by the jockey's father, Aidan O'Brien, and owned by JP McManus, was ridden prominently throughout and still held a narrow advantage when he made a mistake at the last and unseated his rider.

Sir Scorpion, carrying the first colours of McManus and trained by Tom Mullins, was the 6-4 favourite following victory at Leopardstown at the end of February and toughed it out on the run-in to score by a length and a quarter from Lilshane.

O'Brien walked away seemingly none the worse from the fall, while McCoy, whose appearance at the Easter Festival looks set to be his last as a jockey in Ireland, received a rousing reception upon his return to the winner's enclosure.

He said: "I thought he'd a good chance going out. He took time to pick up, and hopefully he'll improve for the experience."

Mullins added: "He sweated up a lot at the start and we'll have to see how he comes out of this before thinking about Punchestown. Tony said he'll stay further."

Tony Martin and Paul Townend got the Easter Festival off to a flying start as Voices Of Spring (12-1) cruised seven and a half lengths clear in the Choice Hotel Group Maiden Hurdle after the fourth-last fall of the odds-on Unic De Bersy opened the way.

Martin said: "He was bought in November and he's done nothing but improve. He was a bit difficult when we got him - keen and free - and the hood was a big help. He jumps well and has the makings of a nice horse."

Terence O'Brien's 11-2 chance Ballyadam Approach looked a sitting duck in the closing stages of the BoyleSports Novice Handicap Chase, but main rival Dysios fell at the last and David Splaine kept him going to score well by three and three-quarter lengths.

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