'I've been thinking about the Grand National for her' - Aintree on Ida's agenda
Mount Ida was slashed to 6-1 from 10-1 for the Paddy Power Mares' Chase at Cheltenham by the sponsors after digging deep to land a vintage running of the John & Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase and, while Gordon Elliott admitted it would be hard to resist such an attractive date, a crack at the Grand National is very much on his radar too.
The winner may have defied an in-running high of 999-1 to land the Kim Muir last season, but this was arguably Mount Ida's best display yet. She gave 3lb to the 155-rated Elimay, who was just touched off by Colreevy in the most recent running of the Mares' Chase, and she had a Champion Chase winner back in fifth as well.
That said, this was not the same Put The Kettle On we know and love. She has gone off the boil completely and it was demoralising to see her trail home last, beaten 42 lengths.
The dual Cheltenham Festival heroine was already struggling when Mount Ida hit the front after the second-last and the 9-4 winner found plenty for pressure under a typically tenacious ride from Davy Russell to score by half a length.
Elliott said: "I've been thinking about the Grand National for her, but you'd have to look at the Mares' Chase for her after that now.
"She's a great mare and I'm delighted for the boys [owners Dave Page and Dave Rabson of KTDA Racing] as it's the first day they've been back racing to see a winner. They are big supporters of Irish racing and of the yard, and they're going to be a force in the future."
The winning trainer added: "She has just kept progressing. I suppose Cheltenham is the first time she really showed it to us last year, she was brilliant in Clonmel the last day and very good again today so she's getting better all the time.
"After Cheltenham she was very sore in her back and we got her looked after. She seems to be a different mare since."
Treble joy for Meyler
Nobody has begun 2022 better than Donagh Meyler.
The talented rider arrived at Fairyhouse on a losing run which stretched back to All Class at Punchestown on the second-last week of November, but he helped himself to a 198-1 treble for three different trainers so that drought was soon forgotten.
The first leg of the hat-trick was on the Arthur Moore-trained Carrig Sam in the opening maiden hurdle, and he then went on to win both divisions of the 3m handicap hurdle on Where's Frankie and Full Noise.
Boogie time for Mullins star
Jungle Boogie remains unbeaten and made it three from three in impressive fashion in the 2m5f beginners' chase, the second leg of a short-price double for Willie Mullins and Sean O'Keeffe, who had earlier teamed up to win the mares' hurdle with the exciting Allegorie De Vassy.
Assistant trainer David Casey liked what he saw from Jungle Boogie, and said: "That was very impressive, obviously he's been a bit fragile to train, but he has a huge engine.
"Chasing was always going to be his game. Obviously we would have preferred to have had more racing into him before now. Hopefully we can keep him in one piece and go forward with him."
Naughtinesse on best behaviour
There was a fitting conclusion to the card as Naughtinesse won the bumper for Lorna Fowler, daughter of John and Chich, who the feature race was named after.
Fowler said: "It's a great day. Sometimes you have a day with a bit of sentiment, like today with the Fowler race, and you think it would be great if it all fits, and it did.
"We will stay in bumpers and, all being well, she will go to the Dublin Racing Festival now."
There was a nasty incident at the end of the 2m5f beginners' chase as a racegoer threw his drink at Grand Paradis as the grey passed the line in third spot.
The racegoer was immediately spotted by security and thrown out, and, thankfully, Grand Paradis was fine.
Fairyhouse manager Peter Roe said of the incident: "The racegoer was identified immediately and escorted off the premises. Thankfully, nobody was harmed and the horse was fine.
"We have details of the racegoer in question and the relevant authorities have been informed. The matter will be fully investigated.
"There is no place for this sort of behaviour on racecourses on what was otherwise a very successful day."
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