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Ballycasey lands Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown

Updated: Sunday, 09 Feb 2014 20:36 | Comments

Ballycasey makes a successful return to action
Ballycasey makes a successful return to action

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Ballycasey put up an admirable display as deputy for Champagne Fever by outpointing Don Cossack to take the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

On a top card, owner Rich Ricci, trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh grabbed a Grade One double with Vautour and Ballycasey.

Absent since making a winning debut over fences in November, the Mullins grey Ballycasey (2-1) made most of the running and rallied superbly to beat the even-money favourite by four lengths.

The only other runner, Carlingford Lough, unseated Tony McCoy at the final fence when looking short of room.

"He's not bad for a first reserve," said Mullins.

"He worked at Punchestown last week and Paul (Townend, jockey) said he worked really well.

"Fingers crossed he'll be all right for Cheltenham. He'd have RSA written all over him at the moment.

"He'll probably be better on better ground."

Ballycasey was promoted to RaceBets' 5-1 favourite for the RSA Chase at the Festival in March.

Vautour (7-4) burst The Tullow Tank bubble with a convincing all-the-way win in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle.

Walsh dictated affairs on the five-year-old, who comfortably held the 9-10 favourite by three lengths to leapfrog that rival as ante-post favourite for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Mullins said: "I was concerned there'd be no pace. We always think that when you've got a good horse you have to have a good pace.

"He jumped very well in front and I was very happy with him.

"I'm still happy to go to the Supreme with him."

The other Grade One went to the Dessie Hughes-trained Guitar Pete (9-2), who booked his place in the JCB Triumph Hurdle with a solid victory in the Gala Retail Spring Juvenile Hurdle.

This race was won 12 months ago by stablemate Our Conor and Hughes looks to have another serious contender for the juvenile championship at Cheltenham.

Leading after jumping the second-last, Barry Geraghty's mount defeated Tiger Roll (16-1) by two and a quarter lengths as Plinth and favourite Ivan Grozny disappointed.

"He will go for the Triumph now he's proved his worth," said Hughes.

"I couldn't ask for more. There were some good horses in there and it was a true-run race."

Promising claimer Ger Fox showed his talents with a double on Robert Tyner's Lughnasa (8-1) in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Handicap Hurdle and Never Enough Time (7-2 favourite) for Tom Foley in the Download The New Paddy Power iPad App Handicap Hurdle.

Robbie McNamara judged his run to perfection on Liam Lennon's Tammys Hill (3-1) to collar On The Fringe in the Raymond Smith Memorial Hunter Chase.

McNamara, who has only recently returned from injury, then secured a quickfire brace when steering Vigil (7-4 favourite) to a comfortable victory in the concluding bumper for trainer Dermot Weld.

Weld said: "He's a possibility for Cheltenham, but so are Silver Concorde and Windsor Park.

"In a couple of weeks we'll make a decision."

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