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Mullins' Response back on song

Immediate Response returned to winning ways in the Suir Valley Chase at Clonmel.

The switch to Willie Mullins' yard sparked a transformation in the gelding's hurdles form last year and he continues to impress, showing a good attitude to record his second success over the larger obstacles.

After jumping economically under the trainer's son, Patrick, the 4-6 favourite knuckled down on the run-in to repel the rallying Rubert by three parts of a length.

The winning trainer said: "He is a lucky horse for Patrick who is five wins from six starts on him now. He seems to make improvement and he idled a bit in front today but he jumped well. We will try and find another race like this for him now and I might step him up to two-mile six or three miles."

Ruby Walsh successfully teamed up with Michael Hourigan when guiding The Crafty Butcher home in front in the opening Holy Thursday Maiden Hurdle. The Vinnie Roe gelding had proved a touch frustrating, having already had seven attempts over timber, but he made no mistake as Walsh cruised to a nine and a half-length victory over Jewel Star after taking it up two out.

Hourigan said: "He shouldn't have been a maiden coming here today. I thought he was a right horse at one stage but they would make liars out of you! I will keep him going now but I'm not sure that he'll go on rock hard ground."

The Conker Club upset the market principals with a gutsy display under Michael Butler in the Easter Holiday Maiden Hurdle. In front from a long way out, Billy Harney's mare - a well-backed 18-1 shot - kept finding for pressure and ultimately had two and a quarter lengths to spare over Coolnaforna Giggs.

Rachel Harney, daughter of the winning trainer, said: "Dad is on a veterinary course, I tend to be lucky when I deputise for him. We'll have to leave him at home again the next day! She wasn't healthy until around six weeks ago and she'll be kept on the go now but not on firm ground. She might go for a mares' novice hurdle next."

The Clonmel Races Easter Egg Hunt Handicap Hurdle went to Rodger Sweeney's Fiery Oscar (11-10 favourite), who defied an 8lb hike for last month's course and distance success. The race was marred when Pretty Happy, second and challenging at the time, took a fatal fall at the second-last flight, leaving the winner to coast home eight lengths clear of Faranadooney.

Winning jockey Colman Sweeney said: "My father has gone to Dundalk, where our better chances are running. I didn't think he'd win as easy but obviously the other horse falling made it easier."


From Belfast Telegraph