JOHN RYAN does well with his small string of horses and has never been afraid to campaign them on the bigger stage.
That policy has reaped dividends in the past and the Tipperary handler struck gold at Cork yesterday with Dromore Lad who caused a 40/1 upset in the Paddy Power Cork Grand National when denying Rocky’s Silver, the pride of Bandon, in the final stages of this three and a half mile marathon.
Owned by Frank Reynolds from Kildare, the eight-year-old was guided to victory by Sean O’Keeffe from Wexford who was following in the footsteps of last year’s winning jockey Darragh O’Keeffe by riding out his claim in this race.
In a pulsating finish, Dromore Lad headed Rocky’s Silver at the final obstacle and stretched right away to score in good style.
Dromore Lad was last seen out at Galway last month and Ryan said: “He wants four miles and goes on heavy ground. He’s as tough as nails and I love that horse.
That was brilliant today and he’ll go for another National.”
Joseph O’Brien took the honours in the Grade 3 Paddy Power Novice Chase with Home By The Lee who stayed on best of all in the hands of J.J. Slevin to maintain his unbeaten record over fences by one and three quarters of a length.
The winner sports the Cork colours of Sean O’Driscoll and his jockey said: “It was a big ask, having had just one run over fences but he jumped fairly well. He got under one or two, but he stays very well and is a lovely horse going forward.”
In contrast, Cappoquin-based Robert Murphy has just three horses in training and sent out the well=fancied Darrens Hope for an all-the-way success under champion jockey Paul Townend in the listed novice hurdle.
Said the trainer: “It’s two weeks since she ran but this race came up. She’s a great mare to stay and that’s my biggest win. Chasing will be her game, but there might be another novice race for her before then. We might even start thinking about the mares novice at Cheltenham!”
Mouse Morris may have been out of luck with market leader Barney Stinson in the first division of the four-year-old maiden hurdle, but he gained quick compensation for the same owner Robcour with a decisive success through his new recruit Indiana Jones in division two of the same two mile contest.
The French-bred was only third reserve for the race, but made the cut and took full advantage to score by five and a half lengths in the hands of Dylan Robinson.
Sent off 15/8 joint favourite with the eventual third King’s Vow, Indiana Jones is a full-brother to his useful stable-companion French Dynamite and is a real chaser in the making.
He was making his Irish debut after finishing second at Auteuil in September and Morris observed: “He’s 17 hh and he’s big and raw, but he’ll be a nice horse next year. He’s doing it well every day and you won’t see the best of him until he goes chasing. I have some nice four-year-olds this season.”
Ronan McNally’s Dreal Deal, with Lombardstown native Maxine O’Sullivan in the saddle, defied a mandatory five pound penalty for his recent Punchestown success to keep up the winning sequence in the two mile handicap hurdle, while Brooklyn Glory, representing the father and son team of Willie and Patrick Mullins, put 17 lengths between herself and Powerful Out to make it two from two in the bumper.
Galway Festival bumper winner Majestic Maid, owned by Conor Murphy from Upton, got off the mark over jumps when justifying strong market support in the Paddy Power Onside App Mares Maiden Hurdle in facile fashion for brothers Michael and Paddy Kennedy.
Michael Kennedy trains the Shirocco mare in Inishannon and commented: “We’ll keep her going during the winter and she’ll go for a rated hurdle next.”