Winged Leader brought his 2020/21 season to a successful conclusion when making all to land the Join the Listowel Races Supporters Club Hunter Chase on Monday afternoon, a race which had been one by none other than this year’s Irish National hero Freewheelin Dylan back in 2017.
One of a trio of horses in the race for David Christie, his journey down from his Derrylin base was made worthwhile by the 8/13 favourite who was immediately sent to the head of affairs by the recently crowned champion point-to-point rider Barry O’Neill from where he was never headed.
Stable companion Marinero was his nearest running companion throughout much of the three-mile journey before giving way inside the final half-mile.
As the home straight approached it was Warriors Tale and Rewritetherules who loomed large, with the latter having made swift progress to come from the tale of the field.
Warriors Tale, the Jack Tyner Memorial victor, did briefly manage to get on terms with the favourite early in the straight, however Maxine O’Sullivan’s mount did not get very high over the penultimate fence and that handed Winged Leader back the initiative as he went on to win by four and a quarter lengths.
Rewritetherules overcame an error at the final fence to hold third ahead of Tattersalls open winner Michael’s Pick.
The success of the seven-year-old son of Winged Leader, saw him turn the tables with Warriors Tale who had lowered his colours over a half-mile shorter trip at Cork over Easter, and provided further success for owners Jennifer O’Kane and John Hegarty after their John Corbet Cup victory with Vaucelet at Stratford a week earlier.
“He wasn’t doing much around there, he was popping away the finest,” said the winning rider having employed the same tactics which had proven successful at Tramore in April.
“When Maxine (O’Sullivan, Warriors Tale) came to me around the bend she actually helped be because he just quickened up and winged the second last and to be honest with you, he was comfortable enough at the line.
“He was out in front a long time and I didn’t want to send him on too early when I didn’t have to. I said that I would let them push me on because I knew I was probably riding the best horse in the race, so I didn’t want to go too early.
“It is a testament to David Christie and how good he is able to keep these horses in such good form because it is the end of the season and it is a long season and to be having him as fresh as that is great team work.