Grange Walk triumphant in Gowran feature as he tees up Aintree trip
John Ryan's charge was not done with when falling two fences from home at last month's Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in the race won by Final Orders and was fitted with blinkers for this €45,000 feature.
Ridden by 5lb claimer Liam Quinlan, Grange Walk proved two and a quarter lengths too strong for runner-up Minx Tiara, with Shakeytry best of the rest in third. "I thought he was the only horse in the field capable of winning a Grade Two and the rest were handicappers. He's a bit more than a handicapper," said Ryan. "He's been a bit of an unlucky sort. Liam gave him a tip-top ride - he's a brave lad over a fence. "He'll go to Aintree, the owner wants to go there. He'll go to a two-mile handicap. "He's a proper two-mile chaser and the blinkers probably helped a bit." David Christie has stated all along that he feels Ferns Lock is booked for the top and he did nothing to alter his trainer's thoughts when winning the INHSC Supporting Point-To-Points Tetratema Cup Hunters Chase as a favourite should. Just a six-year-old, Christie felt Cheltenham would come too soon for him this year, and in any case, the trainer plans on fielding last year's narrow runner-up Winged Leader and ante-post favourite Vaucelet for that event. Ridden by Barry O'Neill he was soon in a clear advantage and was never off the bridle in the beating Lough Derg Spirit by three and a half lengths. "At one or two on the far side he was having a look, he went to shorten and I think he actually stood on himself. I see he pulled a shoe," said O'Neill. "On that ground he's travelling away and he wants to get on with it a bit and you only want to be popping away. "I've no doubt in a better race, going a better gallop, maybe you could take a lead and he'll be 100 percent. "To be honest he's so far ahead of everything at the moment you are restricting him a little bit by sitting against him. I've no doubt going forward that he'll be fine. "He seems to have everything. Everyone was talking about Cheltenham this year but myself and Dave had a good chat earlier in the year and it was just coming a year too soon. "He's still only learning, that's only his sixth run. Next year with a good hunter chase campaign under his belt he'll be a force to be reckoned with, I think." Gordon Elliott and Jordan Gainford teamed up to win division one of the Goresbridge Maiden Hurdle with Abbeydale, while division two went the way of Ellmarie Holden's outsider Karuma Grey, with 7lb claimer Diarmuid Moloney doing the steering. The Henry de Bromhead-trained Lantry Lady dominated her rivals in the Best Of Luck To The Irish At Cheltenham Mares Maiden Hurdle - pulling 14 lengths clear in the hands of Rachael Blackmore. De Bromhead and Blackmore doubled up with odds-on favourite Ain't That A Shame in the Holden Fleet Management Beginners Chase. Although winless in six previous starts over fences, the nine-year-old has finished second on three occasions including a head defeat in the Munster National at Limerick in October. Making his first appearance since finishing fourth in Leopardstown's Paddy Power Chase at Christmas, the 8-13 shot made no mistake, coming home with six lengths in hand over Macs Charm. Blackmore said: "He deserved to win that race. It was a good performance and I couldn't be happier with him. "He handles those conditions and it was a perfect race for him. It's nice to get him off the mark over fences." Willie and Patrick Mullins took the closing bumper with £220,000 purchase Tullyhill in the Cheveley Park Stud colours. "He's a real decent horse and a horse that I've been trying to get out all spring," said Mullins. "I was hoping to qualify him for Cheltenham but he just wasn't right and we waited. "I think he's championship class. We'll look for a winners' bumper, whether we wait for Punchestown or go for one before that. "He's from the top drawer and is another nice horse for Cheveley Park, I think."
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