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Arvika Ligeonniere back to form under optimum conditions in Normans Grove Chase

Updated: Sunday, 06 Apr 2014 19:07 | Comments

Nine of Arvika Ligeonniere's 10 wins have come on right-handed courses
Nine of Arvika Ligeonniere's 10 wins have come on right-handed courses

Arvika Ligeonniere led a one-two for trainer Willie Mullins as he swept to an easy all-the-way victory in the Normans Grove Chase at Fairyhouse.

The Rich Ricci-owned nine-year-old bounced back after being pulled up in the Queen Mother Champion Chase as he took Grade Two honours with the minimum of fuss.

Stablemate Twinlight was the only one of his four rivals to try to get in a blow to the 1-2 favourite, but it was a thankless task as Arvika Ligeonniere won as he liked by three and a quarter lengths.

"I thought he jumped particularly well. He was back the right way of going today," said Mullins.

"He'll go for the two-mile race at Punchestown. He seems to prefer going right-handed, but he has won a Grade One on a left-handed track.

"The ground is a big factor, too.

"He's a real brave chaser and we're lucky to have him."

Barry Geraghty carried on where he left off at Aintree when steering Some Tikket (6-1 favourite) to success in the Clarion Hotel Liffey Valley Novice Handicap Chase.

After four wins at the three-day Grand National meeting, Geraghty was triumphant back on home spoil to drive Dessie Hughes' charge to a five-and-a-half-length verdict over Shamiran.

Hughes said: "He's been running well, but he's been a bit free. Barry said he would try and settle him today, but I didn't think he would going to the first. Once he relaxed and switched off he was good.

"He's a very safe jumper and for a big horse he met a couple wrong, but was able to pop them. He's experienced now, he's had three or four runs. I would say he'll go for the two-mile-five novice handicap at Punchestown. That looks the race to run him in.

"We always thought that two-miles-one would be a bit short for him, but today he showed lovely pace. He probably wants a bit further, though.

"The ground today wasn't too bad, but he will go on heavy ground as well."

Mullins went one better than in the first race by saddling the first three home, headed by Adriana Des Mottes, in the Grade One Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle.

Also carrying the Ricci colours, the 15-8 favourite made all in the hands of Townend to run out a ready winner.

The Mullins-trained Florishwells D'Ete kept Adriana Des Mottes company until after three out where she quickly weakened.

That left Beluckyagain to take second spot for the Mullins stable, seven lengths away, with another stablemate Urticaire third.

Mullins said: "It's like having three winners with Adriana Des Mottes winning and Beluckyagain finishing second and running fantastic, and getting some more black type for Urticaire.

"Florishwells D'Ete was a big disappointment. We'll have to see what went wrong with her."

Adriana Des Mottes had been brought down at the second flight by her stable companion Abbyssial in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.

"It was probably lucky that it happened so early at Cheltenham. You'd have to wonder how the two of them would have got on in the race." said Mullins.

"We're lucky to get what we got today and we're happy with that.

"She's a fine big mare and she'll probably go for the four-year-old champion race at Punchestown.

"She's a big raw mare and she might not take much more racing. She loves that ground and Punchestown is usually nice and safe."

Lieutenant Colonel (5-1) got the better of Le Vent D'Antan to land the Coolmore NH Sires Fame And Glory & Sans Frontieres Novice Hurdle, giving Hughes a double.

Festive Felon and Balbir Du Mathan shared pace-making duties to three out where Le Vent D'Antan went on but he was soon challenged by Lieutenant Colonel.

A mistake at the last put paid to any chance Le Vent D'Antan had and Lieutenant Colonel, who had finished sixth to Faugheen in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle, strode away to score by 10 lengths under Brian O'Connell.

Hughes said: "We're having a great day. He's a smashing horse and he ran well in the Neptune at Cheltenham.

"He was a bit green there and he ran off the last bend a bit, but we were very happy with the run.

"Coming away from Cheltenham we didn't think we'd run him again, but he's done so well physically we said we'd take a chance and he was a better horse today.

"He has enough pace for two miles and he gets two and a half.

"He's only five so we might leave him over hurdles for next year and we've got quite a few to go novice chasing, so we'll give him another year to mature.

"With his pace, he could run in the better races, something like the Hatton's Grace back here."

There was drama at the start when Renneti, one of three Mullins' horses in the line-up, refused to race, while Noel Meade's Apache Stronghold had to settle for fourth on his first run since November.

Valseur Lido (5-2) gave Mullins a treble when beating fellow Gigginstown House Stud-owned Real Steel in the Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Novice Hurdle.

Only 10th in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Valseur Lido made it three wins from four starts this term as he collared the long-time leader at the final flight.

Davy Russell pushed him out to score by four and a quarter lengths to complete a double for the owners after the success of Lieutenant Colonel.

Mullins said: "That was good improvement. I think this was a better race than we thought it would have been.

"It was a good ride from Davy, biding his time, and I loved the battling qualities of the horse.

"I don't think he'll have a problem with another half mile. He was always a brilliant jumper, he pulled out a lot today and he didn't show that at Cheltenham.

"He'll head to Punchestown. He'll get an entry in everything and could go over a trip if the ground got better."

Of Wicklow Brave, Mullins said: "He was disappointing and probably Cheltenham took its toll. City Slicker doesn't like the hood and there's something bothering him."

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