Clarcam show stopping at Leopardstown
The Gordon Elliot trained and Bryan Cooper ridden, Clarcam, stole the show on the opening day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.
Vautour was sent off the 1/4 favourite for the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase but it was Clarcam in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud that ran out an emphatic 17 length winner. A bad mistake five fences from home had Vautour on his nose, but even a spotless round of jumping might not have been enough to guarantee last seasons Supreme Novice Hurdle winner with victory.
Clarcam travelled with ease for Cooper throughout the two mile and one furlong contest, and his jumping brought him to the front at the fourth last before easing away from the struggling Vautour and Ted Veale, who in turn dead heated for second. It was another Grade 1 success for the in-form Gordon Elliot and he was full of praise for his exciting four year old.
“I know Vautour made mistakes but my horse didn’t just win a length or two – he destroyed them,” revealed Elliot.
“Bryan gave him a great ride – I thought he got to the front a bit soon, but it worked out.
“We’ll look at coming back here for the (Irish) Arkle and see what happens then.”
Earlier on the card, Fiscal Focus, provided trainer Desmond McDonogh with Grade 2 success in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle.
Willie Mullins’ Kalkir went off an inevitable odds on favourite, but was unable to make an impact when the winner ridden by Mikey Fogarty travelled smoothly into the straight before jumping the last well, on his way to a two length victory. The winner was making his first start over hurdles and his first start for McDonogh, having previously been trained on the flat by Jim Bolger.
Trainer, McDonogh commented, “l’ll have to sit down and talk with Jim (Bolger) here tomorrow before we decide what to do. I’ve known Jim for many, many years and he’s a great friend. He’s been very good to me.
“He jumped great for his first run over hurdles, and has beaten the favourite for the Triumph Hurdle. I’m still in a bit of shock.
The Intense Focus colt ranges from 14/1 to 20/1 for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham next March.
Things mightn’t have gone exactly to plan for Willie Mullins but he started the day with a winner when French import, Alvisio Ville landed the Bewleys Hotel Maiden Hurdle in impressive style. The JP McManus owned grey travelled smoothly for Paul Townend hitting the front before the final flight on the way to an easy five and a half-length victory.
“He showed there what he’s showing at home. He’s 17.2 hands and has a huge stride. As they were going faster he jumped better, and we think he’s very, very good,” commented the trainer’s son Patrick.
The Robbie Power ridden, Rock On The Moor was victorious in the Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle and the Henry De Bromhead trained, Space Cadet ran out a six and a half length winner of the concluding bumper.
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