Life’s Grand for Ballytrim
The Lucan Racing Leinster Grand National at Naas proved a case of more of the same for champion trainer Willie Mullins and his protege Paul Townend as 2009 Ulster National winner Ballytrim replicated Emma Jane's victory of a year ago.
On that occasion, the ill-fated mare got home by a short head from Florida Express and yesterday Ballytrim also had to get the full treatment on the run-in from Townend to foil his cousin Davy Condon aboard Bluesea Cracker.
Still figuring among the entries for the Aintree Grand National, Ballytrim is more likely to be contesting the Irish version at Fairyhouse.
“He's still in at Aintree, but probably won't get into that race and Fairyhouse would be the obvious alternative. The better going may have helped Ballytrim, although I told his Cork owners not to travel today,” Mullins explained.
The champion trainer went on to complete a double with the help of his son Patrick, who made most aboard A Fine Young Man for a winning debut in the concluding bumper.
Running in the Dorans Pride colours of Tom Doran, the Mullins-trained gelding stayed on well for a four-length success from the promising Seafield, a half-brother to Joncol.
Talented Cork pilot Kevin Coleman staged a splendid comeback from injury and rewarded the loyalty of locally based trainer Oliver McKiernan as Whodoyouthink justified heavy support for the opening novice hurdle.
Only third two out and still in arrears of main market rival Silver Friend over the final flight, the favourite relished the climb to the post to take control in a matter of strides as Stonemaster rallied late to split the pair.
“I was worried early in the straight that we might only be third, but he showed a nice turn of foot from the last. It's great for us as well as Kevin that he came back with a winner today,” McKiernan said.
Sidelined for three months after breaking his leg in a schooling accident, Coleman only just got cleared to renew his partnership with Whodoyouthink, which is likewise bound for Fairyhouse at Easter.
Colourful Monaghan trainer Oliver Brady was in fine voice after Seeability ran out a convincing winner of the three-mile maiden hurdle.
John Cullen produced his mount to lead after the second last and the Bob Back gelding galloped on strongly for a nine-length success.
Dancing Tornado (12/1) reverted back to hurdles in style to land the Naas Supporters Handicap Hurdle under a canny ride from Adrian Heskin.
Meanwhile, Big Fella Thanks moved to the head of the Aintree Grand National betting — at 8-1 — after winning the Raymond Mould Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Newbury on Saturday.