Willie Mullins enjoyed a Grade 1 double on the second day of the Dublin Racing Festival with Faugheen maintaining his unbeaten record over fences in the Flogas Novice Chase. The former Champion Hurdle winner jumped well and, having taken over from longtime leader Battleoverdoyen between the final two fences, stayed on dourly to fend off the challenge of stablemate Easy Game. It was a tremendous performance by the dual Festival winner. The twelve year old will now head back to Cheltenham next month for either the Marsh or RSA Chase.
Asterion Forlonge featured in last year's Top 40 Prospects but the former winning Irish pointer failed to make the racecourse. The six year old has made up for lost time this term though winning a bumper at Thurles in November before scoring easily over hurdles at Naas early in the New Year. Stepping up in class in the Grade 1 novice hurdle on Sunday, the grey comfortably disposed of Easywork by nine and a half lengths. A relentless galloper, the Coastal Path gelding will presumably head to the Festival for the Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle. He doesn't look the quickest but won't be easy to pass in the Festival opener.
Delta Work followed up his win in the Saville Chase at Christmas by taking the Irish Gold Cup under Jack Kennedy. A former Cheltenham Festival winner, he was third in the RSA Chase last spring and is already a dual Grade 1 winner this campaign. Leading at the last, he ran on well to beat Kemboy by half a length with Presenting Percy back in third. Gordon Elliott's gelding is a strong stayer and it remains to be seen whether he will prove quick enough to cope with the likes of Al Boum Photo or Lostintranslation. He also has ground to make up with Santini on their meeting last March.
Musselburgh staged the second of their valuable two day meeting and it proved a profitable afternoon for followers of One Jump Ahead. Highland Hunter (10/11), featured in the Handicap Snips section and having only his second run for Paul Nicholls, was well backed before the Pertemps qualifier and the money proved accurate as the Subtle Power gelding led close home to beat former stablemate Mighty Thunder by half a length. Long-term, the seven year old will make a nice staying chaser for owner Thomas Barr.
Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers have enjoyed a superb week and it got even better in the concluding bumper with the Brian Ellison trained Kearney Hill (20/1) prevailing by a head. The Dylan Thomas gelding had been well held in similar events at Hexham and Sedgefield and step up on those performances here. Purchased for £44,000 last May, he will be suited by two and a half miles plus over hurdles next season.
I am heading to Carlisle tomorrow for Racing TV. The in-form Evan Williams (8 winners in the last fortnight) sends a quartet of runners to the Cumbrian venue and I will be disappointed if he returns to Wales empty handed.
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