Victoria Hill springs 33/1 surprise at Thurles

Off The Charts (right) and Mark Walsh get the better off Kylecure to win the Thurles Handicap Hurdle Thurles  Photo: Patrick McCann

Off The Charts (right) and Mark Walsh get the better off Kylecure to win the Thurles Handicap Hurdle Thurles Photo: Patrick McCann

Neil O’Donnell

The ever-dependable Thurles circuit played host to the domestic racing action on Thursday of last week and for many it was a case of the best wine being kept until last for the closing Fethard Flat Race turned into a cracking contest with Lismore-born owner/trainer Gerry O’Keeffe’s Victoria Hill belying his 33/1 starting price by recording a tenacious success in the hands of Jane Mangan.

Victoria Hill, who failed to feature in two point-to-point starts last season, always travelled with purpose on what was his initial racetrack foray and he made his way to the front before half-way.

Whilst it appeared that he could be swallowed up from the home turn, Victoria Hill dug deep over the final two furlongs and he gamely responded to his partner’s urgings to thwart the well-backed favourite Measureofmydreams by a half-length with a five and a half length break to the third-placed Arctic Wolf. Dungourney-based operator O’Keeffe intimated that Victoria Hill could now take his chance in a maiden hurdle.

Measureofmydreams’ handler Willie Mullins didn’t leave empty-handed for the champion trainer struck with Don Poli in the I.N.H. Stallion Owners E.B.F. Maiden Hurdle.

Sent off the 4/5 favourite, Don Poli certainly gave his many supporters near heart palpitations for he was overtaken briefly by runner-up Kerrieonvic after the final flight. The Gigginstown House Stud-owned Don Poli however pulled out plenty for Bryan Cooper to get on top as the line approached to oblige by a half-length. A novice hurdle is now on the agenda for the five-year-old Don Poli.

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