At the same time as the pause button was pressed on the point-to-point season following updated guidance surrounding the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Bob Olinger delivered further Grade 1 glory for the sport’s graduates when he won the Lawlor’s of Naas Novices’ Hurdle.
An impressive four-year-old maiden winner at Turtulla in late 2019 for Pat Doyle, the now six-year-old was sent off as the 6/4 favourite for his first start in Graded company following a 14-length maiden hurdle success at Navan last month.
Tracking the pace-setting Gabynako, a horse who had finished second in a four-year-old maiden at Moig South in November 2019, Rachael Blackmore brought Henry de Bromhead’s charge up to dispute the lead approaching the penultimate flight.
Moving on whilst still travelling powerfully, the Sholokhov gelding soon went clear before being pushed out to claim the 2m 4f contest by six and a half lengths over Blue Lord, with the long-timer leader and fellow pointing graduate Gabynako in third.
A first Grade 1 success for Brian Acheson’s Robcour who proven to be big supporters of pointing graduates in recent times, the success provides former Irish point-to-pointers with a sixth straight success in the Naas feature following in the footsteps of Bellshill, Death Duty, Next Destination, Battleoverdoyen and most recently Envoi Allen.
“I’m delighted for Brian Acheson and Robcour,” said Blackmore. “He puts a lot into this game and it’s great that he gets rewarded with a Grade 1 winner and a horse like that for the future.
“I was just going to ride a straightforward enough race on him. He’s a simple horse to ride in that sense. I was happy most of the way.
“He jumped better today in the latter half of the race (than at Navan). The jump is there from him if you really ask him. It’s brilliant to get that under the belt.
“Everyone’s always thought a lot of this horse. Davey Roche rides him out at home and liked him a lot from day one. Patrick Mullins won a bumper on him, Pat Doyle won a point-to-point with him. He’s been very consistent. Anyone who’s been involved with him has liked him. Today was the big test.
“He was more professional today than he ever was I suppose. I don’t think he’s a real sharp Champion Hurdle horse in the making. Two and a half is ideal for him either. I wouldn’t rule out two either but the future he’s probably going to be a horse for the longer trips.”