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Rebel fits the bill

Last year's Galway Hurdle hero Rebel Fitz (10-11 favourite) completed a hat-trick over fences in the Guinness Mid-Strength Novice Chase at the Ballybrit circuit.

Mick Winters' stable star tracked British raider Changing The Guard and Sizing Italy into the straight and while he was briefly squeezed to go between that pair, he was soon back on the bridle under Barry Geraghty.

Rebel Fitz steadily eased clear towards the stands' side to come home with three and three-quarter lengths in hand over Sizing Italy.

Geraghty said: "He's all class. The ground was a concern, but he had the pace. I thought for a little bit after the last, just going up the hill, I had to give him a bit of a squeeze, but he jumped on the bridle when we straightened up and it was a piece of work from there. He has an engine. He wouldn't want that ground, ideally, but he's a high-class horse."

Winters, who went on to land this year's Galway Hurdle with Missunited, said: "He jumped good and solid and was well balanced on ground he wouldn't like. With the conditions of the race here it was a hard one to walk away from. He didn't put a foot wrong and having walked the track we let him run.

"He'd have schooled at Dromahane (point-to-point track) in the past after a meeting there, when the ground would be chopped up, so it wasn't anything new to him."

Golden Wonder made a winning debut over fences in an attritional Perfect Pint Beginners Chase. Odds-on favourite Spring Heeled did his best to shake off the attentions of his pursuers, but the Dessie Hughes-trained Golden Wonder (5-1) dug deep for Roger Loughran to get up and score by three and a half lengths.

Hughes said: "You don't mind (the weather) when you have a winner. He's a right horse. He won on good ground in Bellewstown and I thought he'd struggle on this ground. It's great to see him handle it because he's going to be going to be needing to handle it for the rest of the winter now."

Willie Mullins and Andrew Lynch combined to take the Arthur Guinness Projects Novice Hurdle with 11-10 favourite Bally Longford. The five-year-old looked set to win easily when cruising to the lead rounding the home turn, but Our Man Zebo thundered home after the final flight and there was just half a length in it at the line.

Mullins said: "His jumping is a big asset and he is improving and getting stronger all the time. He'll keep to the novice hurdle route."


From Belfast Telegraph