A massive €143,520 Pick 6 Jackpot rollover was a big incentive at Naas last Sunday, but first race 5/6 hotpot and many people’s banker bet Barrington Court was in big trouble turning for home.
She was later found to b e lame but even at her best she would have struggled to contain the very easy winner Valdieu, a 100/30 second favourite who simply scooted home for Noel Meade and Sean Flanagan.
While supporters of “the jolly” were reeling, winning trainer Meade was in no way surprised.
“We always thought he’s a very, very good horse. I couldn’t believe he kept getting beaten in bumpers, but when he came right at Down Royal at Christmas he never came off the bridle”Meade explained.
When it was put to the Navan trainer that his stable has struck a rich vein of form lately he said: “It’s nothing to do with the stable form, believe me he’s a very good horse, we thought he’s the best we had last year.”
“We’ll keep him to two miles for now but he would easily get another half mile.”
“It is good ground today but it was sticky enough at Down Royal when he won there” Noel added.
Articulum justified strong market support in the two miles novice chase when the even money fancy beat the odds on Compeador in a three horse race.
Sent to the front straight away by David Mullins, he was always looking comfortable and drew right away from his market rival for a seven and a half lengths victory.
Winning trainer Terence O’Brien said “I was afraid the ground was too fast, I was nearly going to withdraw him this morning, but he handled it fine.”
“He can certainly stay further, he won a bumper over two miles and three, and his point to point over three miles.”
“We’ll head to Leopardstown now, possibly for the (Irish) Arkle, we’re probably aiming high but he’s earned the chance.”
“I always though he’s a bit special – he’s certainly special for a small yard like ours anyway!” added the likeable Cork handler.
Fittingly, the best winner of the day came in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle, the first Grade One of the New Year.
Battleoverdoyen was sent off the 2/1 favourite and given a patient yet inspired ride by Jack Kennedy he fully justified the market support despite some greeness at times.
Sams Profile in second did not get the clearest of runs and is certainly one to take out of the race, but the winner could be anything.
Unbeaten after a point to point, bumper and two hurdle races, trainer Gordon Elliott can hardly wait to send him over fences next season.
Believe me, there will be no Samcro like indecision of whether or not to stay over hurdles, he will be over fences next season, nothing surer.
In the shorter term he is certainly on the Cheltenham short list – though he is still a very raw and another race in the meantime would greatly help.
The Luke Comer trained Mystique Heights 16/1 – from 22’s in the morning – sent many remaining jackpot hopes spinning out the window though he had run reasonably well on his previous outing at Leopardstown.
For once it was not a great day for Willie Mullins – with Tornado Flyer (pulled up) and the well fancied Come To Me both totally out of sorts in the big one – and then a former Closutton star Meri Devie won the mares beginners chase for Paul Nolan and Bryan Cooper.
James Nolan, the trainer’s brother said: “She wasn’t bought to do that, she was bought as a brood mare but John Brennan (new owner) sent her down and said just see if she can jump a fence and if she can put her in a race and we’ll see what happens.”
“She was a top class hurdler for Willie and also ran well on the flat.”
“Whether she still goes to a stallion now or that plan goes on hold after this I’m not sure, John isn’t here today so we’ll have to discuss it” he explained.
“We thought she might need the run – we’ve only had her a few weeks and haven’t done much with her – but maybe she actually needed the break” James added.
For the record the Pick 6 paid over €15,000, not a bad way to start the New Year!