Pin grabs winning chance
Nearest The Pin landed a dramatic running of the Follow Ballinrobe On Facebook Beginners Chase to end his drought over fences at the ninth attempt.
Seven times placed in his previous eight starts over the bigger obstacles, Tony Martin's gelding had every chance but looked well held by leader Passage Vendome as they approached the final fence in the two-mile-one-furlong contest.
But Ruby Walsh's mount hit the deck and Nearest The Pin (5-4 favourite) quickly put Usa to the sword as he galloped to victory by five and a half lengths in the hands of Barry Geraghty.
Martin said: "He deserved a change of luck. It's nice to see him win instead of going the wrong way. When the other horse fell I was a bit worried about Usa, but he quickened up well on the run-in and left him for dead. When Barry got him straightened, away he went. We'll try and run him in a big galloping track and make more use of his jumping and size."
Walsh and Willie Mullins, the trainer of Passage Vendome, had better luck in the Ballinrobe Members Club 2014 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle when French import Noble Inn (5-4 favourite) led after the second-last and held market rival Clarcam by two and three-quarter lengths, the pair finishing well clear of the opposition.
The jockey said: "He turned in a professional performance. It looked a match on paper and both look to be more than reasonable horses. It was a nice starting point. He'll be better next time."
The John Nallen-trained Minella For Value (13-8 favourite) won for the third time in a little over a month in the Ballinrobe Race Committee Chase. Davy Russell drove him into the lead after jumping the second-last and he held Fantastic Gold by two and three-quarter lengths.
Nallen said: "He's the horse nobody wanted. He won his bumper in Cork and was due to go to the sales, but jumped a gate the day before and missed the engagement. When we did get him to Brightwells nobody wanted him. We'll keep going until he says stop, but he appears better on better ground. A race like the Cork National might be next for him."
Mick Darcy delivered a late challenge on the Denis Cullen-trained May Dullea (9-2) to lead nearing the last and take the Sponsors Day At Ballinrobe Mares Maiden Hurdle by a length and a quarter.
The winning handler said: "She was unlucky the last day. She missed the fourth-last and it cost her ground at a crucial time. I was worried early in the race today as I thought Michael looked too far out of his ground, but he snuck into the race lovely. She might go for a wind operation now as she probably won't run until next spring."
Ancient Sands (7-2) has been in good form and landed a convincing victory in the Ballinrobe Racecourse Of The Year Handicap Hurdle, collaring favourite Luimneach Abu going to the last and scoring by four and three-quarter lengths under Andrew McNamara.
Trainer Joanna Morgan said: "He has scope to jump a fence in time and is a genuine horse. It mightn't have been a very good race, but he won convincingly. I hardly ever leave here empty-handed. I was meant to be at the sales today, but this is my favourite track in the whole world!"