A fantastic season for Robbie Power and Jessica Harrington went up another notch today when they landed Ireland’s richest jumps prize, the BoyleSports Irish Grand National with Our Duke.
The 9-2 favourite, who thumped his rivals by 14 lengths, gave his 35-year-old rider and 70-year-old trainer a first win in the Fairyhouse Easter Monday feature.
The same trainer/rider combination enjoyed Cheltenham Gold Cup success with Sizing John last month and Power was also top jockey at Aintree’s Grand National meeting with four winners.
Bless The Wings, beaten a short head in the race a year ago, again had to settle for second place under Jack Kennedy, faring best of Gordon Elliott’s nine runners and earning €100,000 to boost his trainer’s bid for the Irish trainers’ championship.
Abolitionist, on whom Rachael Blackmore was attempting to become the first female professional rider to win the race, arrived with a promising effort before three out and lost out on second by three-quarters of a length after fluffing the final fence.
Gigginstown House Stud’s 13-runner assault – Tell Us More was withdrawn lame – had Thunder And Roses, the 2015 winner, fare best in fourth, with General Principle fifth. Seven of their runners completed the course.
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh began their Easter Monday with an emphatic victory for Diakali, who made all of the running to land the opening Rathbarry and Glenview Studs Hurdle in impressive fashion.
Diakali was a 9-4 shot and was winning in the colours of Wicklow Bloodstock, who have owned some brilliant horses with the champion trainer in the past, like Wicklow Brave and Arctic Fire.
Not many partnerships get off to as good a start to the one JP McManus has experienced with trainer John Quinn, who supplied the legendary owner with a Grade 2 juvenile hurdle winner this afternoon at Fairyhouse courtesy of Project Bluebook, the first horse McManus has owned with the English trainer.
The four-year-old overcame some untidy jumps to display plenty of guts and determination to get the better of Dandy Mag by just a half a length.
Project Bluebook was ridden by Barry Geraghty and he was returned a 9-2 shot.
Curragh trainer Johnny Levins and his regular claimer Donagh O’Connor combined to land the opening Friday Evening Meetings At Cork Racecourse Handicap with the versatile top-weight Mr Right, scoring for owner-breeder Derek Healy.
The drop back to 6f proved no problem for the son of Echo Of Light as he drew clear in good style inside the final furlong to account for A Few Dollars More by one-and-a-half lengths, the runner-up having chased him for much of the way. Levins has high hopes that this horse could be capable of winning a Premier Handicap this season.
It was a last minute decision for Jamie Codd to come to Cork on Monday, and what a decision it was as a treble on the day now makes him the one to beat in the amateur rider’s championship, lifting him two clear of reigning champion Patrick Mullins.
Codd completed his treble by winning the two bumpers on the card for Gordon Elliott. The Tom Doran-owned Double Portrait battled on strongly to win the 2m3f contest, and then Codd was seen at his strongest when favourite Lackaneen Leader was driven home for what appeared an unlikely neck victory in the mares bumper. Two between them, but it looks sure to go down to the wire.