Jessica Harrington’s Whisperinthebreeze was a poignant winner of the Abbey International Leopardstown Handicap Chase on the second day of the Dublin Racing Festival.
The six-year-old was the final horse bought by Alan Potts before he died in November 2017 and the bold-jumping grey looks to have a bright future.
Racing in the famous Potts colours, he was towards the head of affairs and saw off the attentions of Vieux Morvan by halfway before maintaining his advantage to the line.
Ruby Walsh tried to nurse Livelovelaugh into contention but Paddy Kennedy, elder brother of Jack, had saved plenty for the run in and was going away again to win by three and three-quarter lengths.
“He ran very well at Punchestown last time but that’s not bad, breaking his maiden over fences in such a valuable race,” said Harrington.
“It’s very hard to win a beginners’ chase in this country, but he looked nicely handicapped. I’m delighted for Paddy as he rides out most mornings for me.
“He’s a super jumper. He was the last horse Alan (Potts) bought before he died.
“He could go for the four-miler at Cheltenham if the ground is good, he must have good ground.”
Sassy Diva (100-30 favourite) set herself up for a likely trip to the Cheltenham Festival with a win in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle.
Bred, trained and owned by the Crawley family, the lightly-raced eight-year-old had chased home the promising Honeysuckle last time out.
Trainer Shane Crawley was probably hoping for a place at best as the field turned into the straight as she still had plenty in front of her, but Donagh Meyler managed to produce a race-winning manoeuvre out of the mare to reel in Cut The Mustard and win by two lengths.
“It was her first run in a handicap and she’d run in some small fields, but luckily she had the class to get through it,” said Crawley, who was celebrating the biggest win of his career.
“Donagh is a really cool rider and rides with plenty of confidence. I was delighted he (the handicapper) gave her the mark before we saw Honeysuckle again.
“I’d love to go chasing with her and I’d say this time next year she could be going to stud. She’s done her pelvis before, so we’ve had to be careful with her.”
Dallas Des Pictons (7-2 joint-favourite) provided Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy with another winner in the William Fry Handicap Hurdle.
There were plenty in with chances before Dallas Des Pictons made his bid for home and although Calie Du Mesnil emerged out of the pack to throw down a challenge, she failed by a neck.
“I liked the way the way he jumped. From the last to the line, when the other horse came like he was going to beat him, he put his head out and galloped again,” said Elliott.
“He’s a nice horse and he’s improved every run we’ve had him.
“He’ll be entered in all the handicaps over in Cheltenham and we’ll see what happens.
“To be fair, he’d have to improve a lot off that to be better than a handicapper. He’s a grand horse and will make a grand, big three-mile chaser, but I’d say that’s what he is.”
Santa Rossa maintained her unbeaten record in the Coolmore N.H. Sires Irish EBF Mares I.N.H. Flat Race.
Dermot McLoughlin’s five-year-old was a 25-1 winner on her debut, but was sent off at 3-1 on this occasion under Finny Maguire.
“We were a bit worried about the ground, but she’s very tough and ground it out well,” said McLoughlin.
“The man who owns her will be breeding from her, so the black type is vital.
“I’ll talk to the owner, he might want to go to Cheltenham, we’ll see.”