Ruby Walsh was at his brilliant best as he delivered Robin De Carlow to win the Kerry Group Irish EBF Shannon Spray Mares Novice Hurdle at Limerick.
The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old won successive Listed prizes over this course and distance and at Cork in the autumn, but had since disappointed at Graded level twice.
She was an 11-2 chance for her latest Grade Three assignment and having been dropped out towards the rear of the field by Walsh for much of the two-mile-six-furlong journey, she began to make inroads on the leaders before the home turn.
Robin De Carlow hit the front travelling strongly on the run to the final flight and jumped it well, but in the end she was all out to deny Well Set Up by a nose.
The victory provided the Supreme Horse Racing Club with some compensation following Kemboy’s early exit in Friday’s Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Walsh said: “She jumped and travelled super, but it was very hard in that headwind and when she got to the front she just pulled up.
“I couldn’t have gone much faster through the race and I was just hunting away and it was great to win as black type for these mares in very important – I was aiming for third and anything after that was a bonus.
“She jumped the last two very well, which was hugely important, and I was really impressed with her as I thought she’d struggle on the ground.”
Mullins swiftly doubled up after Gold Cup-winning rider Paul Townend steered Carefully Selected to a workmanlike success in the #63 Hospitality Packages At Limerick Racecourse Maiden Hurdle.
Runner-up in last season’s Champion Bumper at Cheltenham before finishing third in the Punchestown equivalent, the seven-year-old has had his reappearance delayed by unsuitable ground conditions.
He was all the rage as the 1-3 favourite for his belated return and while odds-on backers were made to sweat, Carefully Selected eventually got the better of Lord Schnitzel by three-quarters of a length.
Townend said: “It is so long since he ran that he will come on plenty for it, he is a chaser in the making and has always shown that.
“Anything he does over hurdles will be a bonus before that and he stays very well.”
The champion trainer looked to have every chance of completing a treble in the Charleville Cheese Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase – but his 6-5 favourite Redhotfillypeppers ultimately proved no match for the dominant Moyhenna.
Trained and ridden by Denis Hogan, the seven-year-old filled the runner-up spot on her first two starts over fences – but had failed to complete on her last couple of outings.
She was a 5-1 shot to bounce back and travelled and jumped with zest on her way to a facile 25-length success.
Redhotfillypeppers was beaten to the runner-up spot by 33-1 shot Oh Me Oh My.
Hogan said: “She wants to jump and looks after herself. She is a proper mare and I’m delighted for the lads who own her.
“I entered her for the Irish Grand National during the week and she was rated just 125 before today, but we’ll see.
“There are more of those mares’ novices and there is also the Fowler Chase at Fairyhouse over the Easter weekend.”
Halsafari (3-1) landed the opening Follow Limerick Racecourse On Facebook Rated Novice Hurdle for trainer Michael Bowe and jockey Brian Hayes, before Bill Lanigan and Danny Mullins combined in the Follow Limerick Racecourse On Twitter Handicap Hurdle with West Is Best (14-1).
The Charles Byrnes-trained Thosedaysaregone (5-1) turned over odds-on shot Mall Dini in the Book Online At www.limerickraces.ie Beginners Chase, with 7lb claimer Kevin Brouder the winning rider.
James Dullea’s Rocky’s Silver obliged as the 4-1 favourite in the concluding Liam Hogan Memorial Handicap Chase under Conor Orr.