Cubomania prevails in dramatic Pierce Molony Memorial at Thurles

Last-fence spill for Benruben changes complexion of feature event

  • Saturday 23 March
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Cubomania took full advantage of the final-fence fall of Benruben to land the Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Chase at Thurles.

Only four went to post for the feature race on the card, with Jessica Harrington’s Jetz sent off the 7-4 favourite.

The market leader did not jump that well, though, and while Paul Townend survived a major early blunder, he was a spent force by the third-last.

Gordon Elliott’s Duca De Thaix also lost his chance through errors, but his stablemate Cubomania – pulled up in the Close Brothers Handicap at Cheltenham – was still in there fighting.

He looked beaten as Benruben went by on the run to the last, but he dramatically crumpled on landing, leaving Davy Russell to cruise to another success. Jetz was third

Russell said of his 5-1 scorer: “You have to give credit to Gordon for at least entering him in the race.

“I remember him running in a novice handicap at Perth and I thought he might win a race or two over fences, but I didn’t think he’d be the revelation he turned out to be.”

Regarding the race being run in memory of Molony, the late owner of the racecourse, Russell added: “Pierce was a gentleman and was one of the main men who would look after the jockeys first.

“When there was no sauna here he’d invite us up to the house for a sweat in the hot tub. It was fun coming here, just to meet Pierce alone.”

Scarpeta was another who showed no ill effects from the journey to and from Cheltenham when running out a ready winner of the Enjoy White Gypsy At Finns Borrisoleigh Hurdle.

Willie Mullins sent him to the Cotswolds for the Coral Cup, but he never threatened to get involved in the hurly burly of the big Cheltenham handicap.

Back in calmer waters, the even-money favourite always looked in control for jockeys’ championship leader Townend, providing him with a 99th winner of the season.

The Gold Cup-winning rider always appeared to have matters under control and while Peregrine Run briefly threatened on his return to action from a lay off, Scarpeta won by two and three-quarter lengths.

Jessica Harrington’s Ronnie Wood-owned Sandymount Duke ran a perfectly respectable race with the Grand National in mind back in third.

Mullins said: “He jumped way better today and going a slower speed against lesser opposition gave him great confidence.

“We’ll look for something similar at Fairyhouse or Punchestown, but if a race like this comes up down the country we’ll take that as well.

“He was disappointing on the Flat for us last year, but this year might be different. We’ll find races for him and he can go on good ground.”

The well-backed Napoleon Blue (8-1) beat Sophie’s Best by half a length in the Horse & Jockey Handicap Hurdle for in-form trainer Adrian Murray and Sean Flanagan.

Winning owner Tony McLoughlin said: “We knew it was in him, but he had a disappointing year last year and hopefully it has turned around now.

“Adrian’s barn seems to be coming into form and we also had a winner with Bilbo Baggins at Navan on Monday. Adrian is on Miami beach right now, but he is probably watching it!”

Sizing Rome (8-1) came out on top in the Duggan Veterinary Supplies Handicap Chase for Jim Dreaper and Keith Donoghue over an extended two and a half miles.

Dreaper said: “He would need another mile. He ran well at Cork for a novice and he didn’t as such make mistakes there but horses fell in front of him over the final three fences, otherwise he’d have been close.

“There is hardly a low-enough class race at Fairyhouse or Punchestown for him, but wherever we think he has a chance of winning that’s where we’ll go.”

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