Snow Falcon and Jonathan Moore fend off Saturnas to land Listowel feature
Noel Meade had to sweat it out during a lengthy stewards inquiry before Snow Falcon was confirmed as his first winner of the Guinness Kerry National after holding the challenge of Saturnas by a neck in the biggest prize of the seven-day Listowel festival.
Unlike the Galway Plate, in which he made a horrendous mistake at the sixth fence and was knocked to the rear of the field before finishing fourth, Snow Falcon, a 6-1 shot, was foot perfect for Jonathan Moore this time around.
He drifted right on the run in but the stewards ruled that he had not improved his placing in relation 20-1 shot Saturnas and left the result unaltered.
"He's been an unlucky horse but everything went right today. The plan was to jump off on the inside and to sit behind the leaders," Meade said of the eight-year-old, who is owned by Mrs Patricia Hunt, a long time patron of his Co Meath yard.
"I thought he might have gone on a bit soon but Jonathan said he wanted to get past Rogue Angel instead of getting involved in a battle with him."
The Munster National at Limerick next month and the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury are to be considered for the winner.
Moore, who was deputising for Meade's number one Sean Flanagan, out of action with a leg fracture, said: "Myself and Noel spoke to Sean this morning and decided we wanted to get him out quick as he didn't travel well last time but he did today and jumped really, really well. He was idling going towards the line but I was always comfortable.
"He's a very talented horse and, if he keeps jumping like that, he'll step up to graded company. I want to give a special thanks to Emma [Connolly], who gets into the yard an hour earlier than anyone else to look after the horse and today's win is down to her.
"I rode quite a lot of winners two seasons ago and it's great to be back riding them. These are the days we get up in the morning for."
Meade said: "It was tough on Sean missing out but Jonathan is with us five days a week and is a very good rider. He's got lovely hands and a great eye for a stride."
The well-supported 4-1 favourite Rogue Angel led for a long way and traded at odds-on with a circuit to go. He finished four lengths back in third, followed by Dell 'Arca, who fared the best of the three British raiders.
Gordon Elliott, trainer of Rogue Angel, said: "He ran his heart out. He jumped and travelled well the whole way and did a bit too much early on. Rachael [Blackmore] gave him a great ride."
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