Sesenta sets up Walsh double
REPORT: LISTOWEL Tuesday
SESENTA provided further evidence that size doesn't matter when romping to a six-length win in the 2m handicap hurdle, the feature event on day one of the 150th anniversary Listowel festval.
"This race had been her target all year. She's only about 15.2hh but she's as wide as a gate " said trainer Willie Mullins after the dual Flat winner had scored her second win over hurdles, shooting clear between the last two flights to set up a double for Ruby Walsh.
A return to the Flat is on the cards for the daughter of King's Theatre.
Mullins said: "We'll see how she comes out of today's race and the Irish Cesarewitch on Sunday week is a possibility although it might come a bit soon after racing on very heavy ground today.
"We might keep her for the November Handicap at Leopardstown as she is going to find it hard in handicap hurdles from now on because of her lack of size."
Walsh followed up when Vale Of Avocia, trained by William Codd, went clear immediately after she hit the front at the second-last to land the 2m4f mares' handicap hurdle for the second consecutive year.
Codd said: "This mare had a long break after running at Leopardstown at Christmas and came on a ton from her run at Cork last month. It was always the plan to come back here for this race and we'll aim her at the Cheltenham November meeting. She ran second in a handicap there last year."
El Fontan made it two from two over hurdles when taking the 2m three-year-old winners' hurdle under Paul Carberry.
Sent off the 4-7 favourite, El Fontan beat Hampstead Heath by two lengths and trainer Noel Meade said: "Paul said he thought they went too quick so he bided his time.
"El Fontan didn't jump as well today as he did at Killarney last time but the ground was a lot more testing. I bought him after he won on the Flat at Cagnes-Sur-Mer in February and we gelded him and gave him plenty of time."
Alpha Ridge struck for Paul Nolan and Alain Cawley when holding All Diamonds by one length in the 2m maiden hurdle.
"That's 31 winners for me, 30 in Ireland and one in Australia " said 20-year- old Cawley, who picked up a one-day ban for using his whip with excessive force and frequency.
Nolan said: "This horse is for sale and will make a nice chaser. We knew he'd handle the ground as he won his bumper on similar ground last season and he will appreciate going a bit further."
Chasing also beckons for Boulavogue, who took the 2m conditions hurdle under David Casey, beating stablemate Dr Willie Martin by one and a half lengths.
Trainer Charlie Swan said: "I've schooled this fellowmyself over fences. He stays well and really needs two and a half miles. He was unlucky to finish second six times last season without winning."
Clogher Lass struck for JP McManus and trainer Austin Leahy when coming out on top, under Padraig Roche, in a finish of short heads to the first division of the bumper.
The Kayf Tara four-year-old, bought by John O'Byrne as a yearling at Fairyhouse, pipped fellow first-timers Financialregulator and Onzo Mor, whose rider Brian O'Connell picked up a two-day whip ban for excessive frequency.
"I've only had her about eight weeks and she is a nice prospect, given time to develop," Leahy said of the winner.
Patrick Mullins, who rode the runner-up, had better luck in the second division when partnering 16-1 shot Special Occasion to victory for Charles O'Brien, who said: " I didn't think I'd be here when they cancelled all the Flat races, but this is a nice horse and one we had to wait with after he took on a rail and cut a hind-leg to ribbons. The ground today was a worry and better ground won't be a problem for him."
A 36,000gns Newmarket yearling purchase, Special Occasion scored by one and three-quarter lengths from Run For Charlie.
That man again: Ruby Walsh for his double on Sesenta and Vale Of Avocia