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Battling Avondhu Lady snatches Hat Mares Chase verdict at Naas

Updated: Saturday, 08 Feb 2014 17:44 | Comments

Avondhu l;ady (l) beats Byerley Babe to the post
Avondhu l;ady (l) beats Byerley Babe to the post

Avondhu Lady outbattled Byerley Babe in a thrilling finish to the BBA Ireland Limited Opera Hat Mares Chase at Naas.

Tarla was sent off the 9-10 favourite for Willie Mullins but a couple of jumping errors saw her beaten two from home, with Avondhu Lady and Byerley Babe slugging it out in the finish.

Byerley Babe appeared to have travelled better than Avondhu Lady, but the latter dug deep to hold on by a neck at the line in the hands of Mark Enright.

Lead Kindly Light finished five and a half lengths adrift in third, with Tarla only fourth.

Winning trainer David Fenton said: "She's never let us down - she's game and tough.

"I thought the two miles might be a bit sharp for her, but that trip here on that ground is a test of stamina.

"They got into a battle in the straight and that's her forte.

"Tarla and Byerley Babe are two good mares and I have the two-and-a-half-miler at Fairyhouse in mind for my one now (the Grade Three John and Chich Fowler Memorial Mares Chase).

"The lads (owner, Richard Flynn of the Avondhu Bar in Fermoy) were thinking about the Irish National, but she's a bit small for a big field like that."

Enright thanked winning connections for their support after what has been an interrupted campaign for the rider.

He said: "I was four months out after fracturing three vertebrae in my back. I was then back a month to the day when I got a fall at Cork and fractured my sternum.

"I just rushed a bit to get back for Christmas when I rode for two days. I went in riding out for the boss, Dessie Hughes, the following morning and I knew I couldn't go any more as my shoulder was giving me grief.

"I had to sit at home for another month so there was nearly five months of the season gone at that stage.

"It was frustrating but It's great to be back with a winner."

The Way We Were (7-2 favourite) justified market support as he ran out a five-length winner of the DUBES Bess Ball Hype Handicap Chase.

Winning trainer Edward O'Grady said: "I was just surprised it took him so long to win a chase.

"The fact that he's had two wind operations would make me hope that he'll be better on better ground."

Champagne James was sent off the 4-9 market leader for the Tote Jackpot Maiden Hurdle and duly ran out an easy winner for trainer Ted Walsh and jockey Danny Mullins.

Walsh said: "He'll make a good chaser as he's big and brave. He's not short of pace and if he'd winged the last he wouldn't have come off the bridle."

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