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McCoy bows to the Major

Major Finnegan claimed the scalp of Jered on his return to action after almost two years off the track as the pair made their chasing debuts at Punchestown.

Liam Burke's seven-year-old showed emphatically he had got over his problems by making all the running and having enough in the tank to keep the 2008 Champion Novice Hurdle winner at bay by three-quarters of a length in the Dobbins Panoramic Restaurant Beginners Chase.

Major Finnegan (12-1) had unshipped Davy Russell on the way to the start but it made no difference to the result as he was too strong for the Noel Meade-trained 8-11 favourite, ridden by Tony McCoy.

The pair were 11 lengths clear of the third, Lenabane, with the distant fourth Darby's Turn the only other runner ever in contention.

“”I always thought a lot of him but he was off for two years with a leg problem. He won a point-to-point first time and two nice hurdles,” said Burke.

“He dictated from the start, although that wasn't the plan. I was just afraid he might not see it out through lack of fitness.

“Hopefully he'll improve and he's a decent horse. I'm happy to stay around that trip with him. On soft ground I don't think he'll get much further.”

McCoy had earlier struck in the JP McManus colours on Sweeps Hill, who edged out market rival Some Present after what turned into an unsatisfactory tactical affair for the Tote Sports Lounge Novice Hurdle.

Some Present went to the lead in the early stages but after he almost ran out the second flight, rider Russell decided to take a pull and wait for the rest of the field.

The remainder of the contest was run at a crawl until a sprint finish in which Sweeps Hill (evens) won by three-quarters of a length.

Sweeps Hill remained 16-1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with Stan James, who left Some Present at 20-1.

His trainer Tom Mullins is convinced Some Present was spooked by something on the approach to the second flight.

“He will have learnt something, but it was a farcical race to watch.”

Shinrock Paddy is 25-1 for the Supreme Novices' with William Hill after making a pleasing debut over jumps in the Punchestown Event Centre Maiden Hurdle.

Paul Nolan's five-year-old, whose only defeat to date came in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham behind the mighty Dunguib, made most of the running and stuck to his task well despite being strongly challenged in the closing stages.

The 1-2 shot, ridden by Alain Cawley, had a bit in hand as he held Gallant Light by half a length with Rick another half a length away in third.

“It's nice to get that out of the way — you're always worried about a small field,” said Nolan's brother, James.

“We'll look at a novice at Cheltenham as he won there last year and it might give him a bit of experience for March.

“There is also the Barry and Sandra Kelly Hurdle at Navan in December. I think he is more of a stayer. We said we'd start him over two miles and take it from there.

“With a true test we'll see the real Shinrock Paddy.”

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph