Henry de Bromhead is experiencing an absolutely stellar season and the local Knockeen-based handler appears to have another potentially top-class prospect on his hands in the form of Identity Thief who made a victorious return to action in the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle, the featured event on the first session of the two-day weekend meeting at Down Royal on Friday of last week. The 137-rated Identity Thief, sporting the familiar Gigginstown House Stud silks, made every yard of the running with Bryan Cooper and the winning five-year-old jumped soundly in main.
He was already well and truly in command when making his only semblance of an error at the final flight. Runner-up Whiteout, who was in receipt of eight lbs, wasn’t able to capitalise in any way as the triumphant British-bred stayed on powerfully to oblige by three and a half lengths. Identity Thief, who came into this race with a rating of 137, will now be aimed at the Grade 1 Hattons Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse at the end of this month and de Bromhead is keen to train the son of Kayf Tara with this season’s Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in mind.
De Bromhead actually departed the Co Down venue with two winners on Friday for The King Of Brega justified strong market support in a somewhat grief-stricken Robinson Services Handicap Chase over the minimum trip of two miles.
On what was his first start for de Bromhead, King Of Brega overcame a penultimate fence error with Andrew Lynch by storming to the front in the shadow of the post to contain Churchfield Champ by a half-length with a one and a half length break to the third-placed Pairofbrowneyes. The BMW Partnership-owned The King Of Brega, who was running off a mark of 120 here, is likely to pay his way over the coming months.
At Down Royal on Saturday the Grade 1 JNwine.com Champion Chase occupied centre stage and Don Cossack, the highest-rated chaser in training in either Ireland or Britain at present, had little more than an exercise canter in the hands of Bryan Cooper. In a race that unfortunately attracted just four runners, the Gordon Elliot-trained Don Cossack supplemented his return victory at Punchestown last month by leading from four out and he duly returned with a hard-held eight lengths to spare over Rocky Creek.
The probability is that Don Cossack will now be prepared for a tilt at the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton on December 26th with the Cheltenham Gold Cup as his ultimate seasonal objective.
Fethard Player, owned and bred by Billy Treacy from Fethard, justified the lengthy trek from south co Tipperary by returning to the coveted number one slot in the Billecart-Salmon Handicap Hurdle.
Fethard Player, who came second in this same race 12 months ago, stylishly made his way to the front after the second last with talented three lb claimer David Mullins and he duly returned with five lengths to spare over John Cullen’s admirable mare Misty Lady.
It’s possible that Treacy could now aim Fethard Player at the coveted BoyleSports.com Hurdle at Leopardstown.
At Cork on Sunday, Co Wexford handler Richard Rath’s Moylisha Tim continued his phenomenal rate of improvement by landing the Grade 3 Paddy Power Insurance EBF Novice Hurdle over three miles.
Moylisha Tim made virtually all the running with amateur rider JJ Slevin, who was unable to utilise his seven lb claiming allowance in this race, and he found plenty on the run-in to dispose of the maiden Ben Button by three lengths.
In Moylisha Tim’s present form, it’s not outside the bounds of possibility that he could develop into a formidable long-distance novice hurdler this season.
Patrick Mullins’ decision to postpone his trip to Australia for this Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup in order to partner Screaming Rose in the closing Weatherbys GSB Mares’ (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race proved spot-on as the daughter of Darsi had little difficulty in justifying odds-on favouritism. Screaming Rose, trained by Mullins’ father Willie, led from two furlongs out and she was always in command thereafter as she bounded clear to dismiss Pride Of The Braid by four lengths.
There was also racing at Naas on Sunday where Clashmore-based handler Gavin Dower sent out the admirable mare Mrs Mac Veale to win the €30, 000 Tegral Kildare GAA Brown Lad Handicap Hurdle over two and a half miles.
Mrs Mac Veale came from off the pace in a truly-run contest to lead after the final flight and she forged clear as the line approached to beat favourite Roll It Out by one and three quarter lengths.
Owner Paddy Corkery from Cappoquin indicated that Mrs Mac Veale is likely to run until the end of the year before being covered and most meritoriously, she has now amassed over €100, 000 in earnings.
Mrs Mac Veale’s rider Donagh Meyler continued his meteoric rise by partnering two winners as the Kilmacow native was earlier on the mark aboard All You Need in the Palmerstown House Estate Handicap Hurdle.
The French-bred All You Need, the middle leg of a three-timer for owner Barry Connell and trainer Alan Fleming, justified strong market support by making most of the running and she stormed clear in the closing stages to dismiss Fighting Days by five and a half lengths.