Barry O’Neill extending his advantage at the top of the riders table, riding a double on the day which was initiated by Telmesomethinggirl in the opening Arctic Tack Stud four-year-old maiden.
One of two mares in the line-up, the debutant was given a positive ride, before taking up the advantage on the run to the penultimate obstacle.
The Milestone Racing Partnership-owned mare was left clear by the departure of her two closest pursuers at this point, but to her credit daughter of Flemensfirth picked up readily on the run to the line, coming home three-length in front of the staying-on Zero To Hero.
“She has always been a lovely filly. Barry couldn’t pull her up afterwards, so she had plenty left in the tank. We will go to the Cheltenham sales now,” said handler Colin Bowe.
Winged Leader brought up a hat trick of victories when taking the Ballywalter Farms winner of three, bringing up the double for Barry O’Neill in the process.
The five-year-old only faced two rivals, with O’Neill electing to make much of the running. The eventual runner-up, Ballinasilla joined the leader five-out and still held every chance turning-in. However theJohn Hegarty & Jennifer O'Kane-owned winner quickly put the race to bed on the run to the last, ultimately winning by a comfortable eight lengths.
The son of Winged Love was having his first start for handler David Christie who said: “We will go for another point-to-point, maybe an open just to teach him more and then if everything is well we will look at the hunter chase at Down Royal on March 17th.”
John O’Neill enjoyed a winner on just his second ride of the season when taking the Gain five and six-year-old mares’ maiden aboard The Three Wizards, who posted a very impressive performance on her debut.
Carrying the colours of Marie Brennan, the daughter of Oscar was ridden in mid division before easing clear under a hands and heels ride in the closing stages.
That’s the Truth came home eight lengths back in second, while Subtle Quest was placed for the fifth time when finishing third.
“She is a mare that we think is very smart. John gave her a great ride and is great value for his five-pound claim. I was hoping she would put in a performance like that. We will sell her now,” said handler John Paul Brennan.
The Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham five-year-old geldings’ maiden saw Rapid Raider post a fine front running performance under James Kenny.
The debutant put in a solid round of jumping and held every chance at the final fence when left clear by the departure of Clondaw Promise.
To his credit the son of Golden Lariat showed no signs of stopping on the run to the line, coming home five-lengths to the good of Enjoy D’Allen.
Owned by Gavin Kinch, the five-year-old was bought for €20,000 at the Derby sale in 2017 and handler Liam Kenny was on hand to say: “We were hoping to run him as a four-year-old as we had him ready to go but then he got a bit of a nick so we had to take our time. The plan would be to go to the Cheltenham sales now.”
Spanish Leather got off the mark at the seventh attempt in the Nitrofert six-year-old geldings’ maiden, having been somewhat unlucky to come to grief on three of his previous six starts.
Mark Scallan was content to track the leaders for much of the contest before picking up the advantage on the run to the final fence.
The Inish Stables Partnership-owned son of Ask secured victory with a good jump at the final fence, coming home six lengths in front of Kilrane Road who filled the runner-up spot.
Winning handler Brian Jordan has six horses in training and said: “We will try him in a winners’ race now because we won’t be able to sell him just on that. I think he will improve again.”
Evan Dwan gave the Tony Martin-trained Cle En Main a fine patient ride to take the concluding Horse & Hound Hotel seven-year-old and upwards’ maiden for novice riders.
The French-bred son of Voix Au Nord was settled in mid division and despite a couple of sloppy jumps, the seven-year-old caught the eye travelling very strongly with a circuit to race.
Wearing the colours of owner Donal Houlihan, Dwan was content to bide his time down along the back straight as the leaders began to get racing, before sweeping through to lead on the run to the second last.
The debutant galloped on resolutely to the line to record a six-length success over Mister Flemington, with the veteran Belushed coming home a gallant third.