Alan Magee, PA
Trainer Dermot McLoughlin, jockey Keith Donoghue and owner-breeder Pat Conway enjoyed a memorable afternoon at Fairyhouse after combining to win the first two races on Easter Sunday.
Tipperary bumper winner Imperial Ruler was the 6-4 favourite for the opening Ryan’s Cleaning, Waste & Recycling Maiden Hurdle, having finished second on his jumping bow at Down Royal last month.
The five-year-old was strongly challenged by Gorgeous Suspect on the run-in, but dug deep for Donoghue to score by a length.
McLoughlin said: “He’s a nice horse, and he picked up well when Keith got stuck into him. I’d say he’d like a bit of slower ground, but he did it well.
“When he saw a lad with an orange jacket at the second last hurdle that was omitted, he ran around a bit, but it was a good performance.
“He has to learn a bit, and I’d say he’ll keep going.”
Amateur rider Fiona Leaney suffered a heavy fall early in the race and was taken to hospital for further assessment, but was reported to be conscious and talking leaving the racecourse.
McLoughlin, Donoghue and Conway doubled up with Digby in the Cawley Furniture Novice Handicap Hurdle.
The 7-1 shot got under the final flight, but stuck to his task gamely to see off Auckland by two and a quarter lengths.
“Once the first horse won, I thought this fella would take a bit of beating – I fancied him,” McLoughlin added.
“He toughed it out and is a real stayer. They are two nice horses and both will jump a fence.
“We’ll see how he comes out of this, but I’d say we will go to Punchestown if there is something suitable.”