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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

From Faugheen to Rubi - stars who've shone at the track

David Jennings with his top five from the Christmas festival at Limerick

Faugheen: landed the Liberty Insurance Novice Hurdle at Limerick's Christmas Festival in 2013
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Limerick does not have the profile of Kempton or Leopardstown but its Christmas meeting has certainly been graced by some high-class performers in recent years, as pinpointed here by David Jennings... 

1. Faugheen (Liberty Insurance Novice Hurdle, 2013) 

The Machine paid a visit to Limerick in 2013, in a 3m novice hurdle would you believe. His jumping had been a bit sloppy at Punchestown and Navan so Willie Mullins decided to try to get his confidence back by stepping him up in trip. It worked a treat. He made all under Emmet Mullins and the only surprising thing was his starting price. He was allowed to go off at 8-13 as punters got stuck into Azorian at 11-4. It looks some value now. 

2. Outlander (Shannon Airport Novice Chase, 2015) 

Always an interesting Grade 2, and in 2015 it was the scene of a workmanlike win for Outlander. The three-time Grade 1 winner was a warm order at 1-2 and obliged, seeing off stablemate Avant Tout in typically gutsy fashion. He went on to land the Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown on his next start.

Outlander struck at Limerick two years ago before going on to bigger things

3. Penhill (Guinness Novice Hurdle, 2016)

Some said Willie Mullins was bonkers to be trying Penhill over three miles. How wrong they were. The free-going son of Mount Nelson settled at the back of the pack under Paul Townend and picked them off one by one. He won with his head in his chest by seven lengths and it was the springboard for success in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival.

Penhill struck over three miles at Limerick before his Albert Bartlett success

4. Seabass (Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase, 2011) 

The 2012 Grand National third justified 9-2 favouritism in the ultra-competitive handicap chase on day two of the Christmas meeting. The 2m3½f trip was an obvious cause for concern, but Katie Walsh sent Seabass straight to the front and never saw another rival on the way to a smooth triumph over Tullintain. A fluent round of jumping was the main ingredient.

Seabass: Limerick success before his Grand National heroics

5. Rubi Light (GGL Security Hurdle, 2009) 

It was only his second start in Ireland and his first win. Rubi Light oozed class in the 2m3f hurdle, despite the fact he was rated only 111 at the time. He went on to win seven more times for the Hennessys, including the Grade 1 John Durkan Chase at Punchestown in 2011. Limerick was the first glimpse we got of the real Rubi Light. What a star he was. 

Owner Bill Hennessy shakes hands with Philip Carberry, who purchased Rubi Light

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Some said Willie Mullins was bonkers to be trying Penhill over three miles. How wrong they were
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