Light puts on super show to clinch win
Rubi Light thrust himself into the Lexus Chase picture with an authoritative display to secure the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown yesterday.
Having crashed out at the last fence with a Grade Two at his mercy at Gowran Park in October, his five-length victory in heavy ground here was certainly fitting retribution.
It was also a deserved result for trainer Robbie Hennessy, who had to swerve two intended targets when his six-year-old suffered a viral infection.
Hennessy's patience paid off in spades as Rubi Light, with his bang in-form regular rider Andrew Lynch back in the saddle, led from halfway to deliver the Ratoath-based handler his second Grade One success.
“Andrew said he'd come on for that,” Hennessy reported afterwards. “The horse was sick, but he had been working great for the last two weeks, and he loves that ground.”
As Lynch stretched the field on the 5/2 joint favourite turning out of the back, it was fellow market leader Joncol and Tranquil Sea that gave chase.
While the latter's run soon petered out, Joncol plugged on for second without really threatening, as Cooldine trailed in a further 29 lengths back in third after Roi Du Mee fell at the last.
“The Lexus will tell us if he's a Gold Cup horse or a Ryanair horse,” Hennessy added of Rubi Light, which is owned his father Bill. “It would be great to have a Gold Cup horse, but we'll wait and see. He's a nice horse to have around the place.”
Bookies cut Rubi Light to 8/1 from 14/1 for the Ryanair, a race he finished third in at Cheltenham last March. He was trimmed to 25/1 for the Gold Cup and is 4/1 for the Lexus on December 28.
Following Denman's retirement, the Leopardstown showpiece lost another contender here when reigning Irish Hennessy Gold Cup hero Kempes suffered a fatal fall five-out.
Earlier, Jim Culloty's Lord Windermere (4/1) ground out a head victory over favourite Dylan Ross in the Listed novice hurdle.
“He is a slow learner but he has got an engine,” Culloty said of the Dr Ronan Lambe-owned five-year-old. “He is in a Grade One at Christmas but that is probably going to come too soon. We will try and find something on a bit of nice ground in February.”
Please Talk justified market support to make most in the maiden hurdle. Sporting JP McManus's colours, this one was backed from 4/1 into 5/2 favouritism and scored accordingly.
Kyle's Turn triumphed in the handicap hurdle to provide Antrim-based John Ross with his first win of the campaign.
Red-hot 2-7 favourite Golden Silver had fortune on his side at Cork, where the Willie Mullins-trained stalwart was left to cruise home in yesterday's Grade Two Hilly Way Chase.
Osirixamix ploughed through the last and fell when looking on course for victory.
Meanwhile, Robert Thornton suffered a broken arm in a fall at Hereford yesterday.