/ Racing

Briar Hill secures Navan Novice Hurdle

Updated: Sunday, 15 Dec 2013 16:34 | Comments

Briar Hill and Ruby Walsh en route to winning the two-horse race in Navan
Briar Hill and Ruby Walsh en route to winning the two-horse race in Navan

Briar Hill made all the running when beating his sole rival Azorian in the Navan Novice Hurdle at the County Meath track.

Ruby Walsh decided to set the pace on the Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old and despite having to do the donkey work, Briar Hill's class shone through.

Azorian tried to put it to the Cheltenham Champion Bumper scorer, who had made a winning debut over hurdles at Wexford four weeks ago.

However, the 1-4 shot found more when challenged and while it was slightly harder work than the odds suggested, a big leap at the last helped him pull four and three-quarter lengths clear.

The race was reduced to a match with the late withdrawals of the Noel Meade-trained pair Apache Stronghold and Very Wood.

"I'd imagine we'll be looking at two and a half miles or longer. He seems to have loads of stamina." - Mullins

Mullins said: "It was a tactical race and we weren't sure if Azorian would jump off in front or drop in. Our fella proved in Wexford that he was able to jump in front.

"He's a lovely relaxed individual and he stays. He could go out to three miles if we want. I'd imagine we'll be looking at two and a half miles or longer. He seems to have loads of stamina.

"Christmas might come a bit too soon and we could possibly look at the Slaney Hurdle at Naas in January.

"He's closely related to Boston Bob. Last year he showed nothing at home but this year he's showing at home what he's doing on the track."

Mullins admitted he has a seriously strong hand in the novice hurdle division.

"This is definitely the best crop of novice hurdlers I've ever had. They are all fit and healthy and hopefully we can keep them like that," he said.

Elsewhere at the Co Meath venue, Mullins gave dual bumper winner Sizing Tennessee his jumps bow in the Irish Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle and the 9-4 favourite put in a thoroughly likeable show, leading going to the last to win by three and three-quarter lengths under Andrew Lynch.

The champion trainer went on to another treble when the highly regarded Royal Caviar (1-4 favourite) made heavy weather of beating Fine Rightly in the 'Future Champions' INH Flat Race, winning by two and a quarter lengths under Patrick Mullins after a bumping match in the final furlong.

Sizing Tennessee's owners Alan and Ann Potts completed a double, as did Lynch, when Henry De Bromhead's 9-10 favourite Sizing Gold took the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase, getting his rivals on the stretch from some way out and beating Mullaghanoe River by four lengths.

There was a big prize for the Tara Handicap Hurdle and it went to Jarlath Fahey's consistent Jennies Jewel (10-1), who was never far off the leaders under Ian McCarthy and had enough in the tank to hold off He'llberemembered by half a length.

Arthur Moore's 7-2 favourite Hop In ended a sequence of four seconds with a gutsy victory in the Beauparc Handicap Hurdle, rallying to collar Blacklough and win by three-quarters of a length under David Casey.

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