Cabaret Queen hits the right tune
Cabaret Queen spearheaded a fruitful afternoon yesterday for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend at Limerick as she ran away with the JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National Handicap Chase.
The seven-year-old was a reserve for the three-mile event, but sneaked into the field after a couple of horses were taken out and Townend seized the opportunity with both hands.
He was positive from the off on Cabaret Queen (9-1) and she was well clear turning for home, clearing the final obstacle in fine style to win by 13 lengths from Spider Web, with Oscar Knight back in third.
Cabaret Queen is now a 14-1 shot with Paddy Power for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on November 30.
Townend said: "She jumped like a buck and it means a lot when you can do that around here. She improved again from Listowel and we are learning about her the whole time.
"The ground was an unknown, but she handled it well enough and I got it easy in front.
"She was a good find and I won this race in the past with Treacle (2009)."
Listen Dear had got the Closutton team's day off to a good start as she ended a long barren spell with victory in the PricewaterhouseCoopers Irish EBF Cailin Alainn Mares Hurdle.
The winner had not hit the target since May 2017, but Townend rode her with plenty of confidence and she cruised home by eight lengths at odds of 14-1.
Townend said: "After doing a circuit while I was still in front I could feel her growing in confidence underneath me. She seemed to have lost her confidence, but that will do her the world of good.
"Going up in trip was something we had to try because it wasn't working back at two miles and she was able to go that gallop today in her comfort zone.
"The future wasn't looking bright after her last couple of runs, but she was definitely back to herself there and she likes that ground."
Darver Star (13-8 favourite) took the other Listed prize, the Ladbrokes Where The Nation Plays Novice Hurdle.
Trained Gavin Cromwell and ridden by Jonathan Moore, Darver Star could now head to Cheltenham following his one-and-a-half-length verdict over Fast Buck.
At the Curragh, Mullins was also on the mark as Royal Illusion turned the Tote Irish Cesarewitch into a procession.
Giving 17-year-old rider Joey Sheridan a landmark success, the Mullins-trained mare went quickly clear of the field after taking over at the head of affairs inside the two-furlong marker.
The winner's stablemates Legal Spin and Saglawy had cut out the early running, and while Red Gerry briefly led on straightening for home, as soon as the seven-year-old Royal Illusion went on, the race was over.
Sent off at 10-1 under her 7lb-claiming jockey, Royal Illusion had eight and a half lengths in hand over Dalton Highway at the line, making it a Cesarewitch double for Mullins, after Stratum struck at Newmarket on Saturday.
Rock De Baune was another two and a quarter lengths back in third and Red Gerry fourth.
Revealing ambitious plans for his Cesarewitch stars, Mullins added: "Last night I was thinking, 'what are we going to do now with Stratum?' - and there is a $2.5million race out in Saudi Arabia.
"He goes on good ground and she goes on good ground. I'd imagine they will go there if they get an invite.
"It's on February 29 and is not what I need two weeks before Cheltenham, but for that money we'll have to go."