A review of the pick of the action from Navan
Last Updated: 12/01/14 5:07pm
She's Got Grit: A gutsy winner
She's Got Grit lived up to her name as she dug deep to claim the 30,000 euro Foxrock Handicap Chase at Navan.
Trained by Terence O'Brien, the nine-year-old mare crept into the contest off bottom weight, with the capable Adrian Heskin doing the steering.
Plenty were beaten rounding the home turn and it turned into a straight duel from the second-last, with 11/4 favourite She's Got Grit and 12/1 shot Orpheus Valley going at it.
There was little to choose between the pair jumping the final fence, but She's Got Grit won the argument by half a length, with Heskin punching the air as he passed the post.
O'Brien said: "It was a great pot. Off her mark she was always going to be carrying bottom weight. It was great to get black type for her and that was probably going to be her best opportunity to get it.
"She's been a fantastic mare over fences. This time last year she was still a maiden and she's really gone from strength to strength. She's very genuine and has a lovely attitude. She's also a big scopey mare."
Gallant Oscar landed some hefty bets as he held on in a thrilling finish to the Meath Handicap Hurdle.
Rated almost 30lb lower over the smaller obstacles than over fences, Tony Martin's eight-year-old was only fourth on his seasonal bow at Down Royal on Boxing Day, but was backed off the boards to get back on the winning trail in this two-and-a-half-mile test.
Sent off the 7/4 favourite for a fiercely-competitive 24-runner handicap, Gallant Oscar was produced to lead at the final flight by Walsh and the jockey looked set to seal his hat-trick for the day comfortably.
However, the market leader began to tie up in the closing stages and passed the just a head in front of Drive On Locky.
Martin said: "It was a bit hairy, but Ruby got the job done and that's what counts. He's relatively easy to train. He had a good run the last day and improved a bit off it. He stuck out his neck and held on well."
Irish Thistle profited from the final-fence fall of hot favourite Mad Brian to take the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Novice Chase under Davy Russell.
Mad Brian was taking a significant drop in class having finished sixth in last month's Grade One Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown and the 4/5 favourite jumped accurately at the head of affairs for much of the contest.
He quickened clear of 2/1 shot Irish Thistle going down to the final fence, but jockey Keith Donoghue asked for a big leap and his mount did not respond, making a bad error and dumping Donoghue on the turf.
Irish Thistle jumped the obstacle fluently and passed the post 12 lengths clear of Seskinane.
Winning trainer Harry Rogers said: "You need a bit of luck now and again. He'll probably go back to two miles as he got a bit tired there."
There was a treble on the card for Willie Mullins which was kick-started by Aklan (9/10 favourite) who, on his jumping debut and first start since the summer of 2012, was much too good for his opponents under Walsh in the 2014 Navan Membership Maiden Hurdle.
Mullins said: "We've been waiting a while for that fellow. He's had little bits of problems. They've been minor enough but have kept him off.
"He's got a real good engine but he'll have to brush up his jumping a bit. As the ground gets drier his jumping should improve."
Un De Sceaux won the second in the canter before Mullins completed his hat-trick in the concluding bumper as 4/5 favourite Milsean ran out an impressive winner in the hands of his son, Patrick.
"He's a huge staying chaser in the making but he's not slow either. I'll be minding what ground he runs on and we'll find a winners' bumper for him," said Mullins senior.