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Cullen bags Naas spoils on Ebadiyan

After a fortnight of nothing, there was some little compensation with a midweek bonus at Naas yesterday as Woodlands Park played host to a card far beyond what should be held on a Tuesday, having been forced to redirect after rain downfalls on Saturday.

The crowd was as healthy as could be expected all things considered, and those in attendance were treated to another Oliver Brady rendition as his grey stable star Ebadiyan bounced back to something more apparent of his form by landing the listed Limestone Lad Hurdle under a never-say-die ride from John Cullen.

Cullen was the first to ask a question of his mount approaching the turn in having kicked a few lengths clear and despite the sight of Paul Carberry looming with an apparent handful, when push came to shove it was Ebadiyan who roughed it out better on the day and claimed the spoils by a shorthead.

Amiss

Brady, who is hosting a Cheltenham Preview night next month in aid of his Shabra Charity, was in full voice yet again and revealed the horse was back to his best after something went amiss at Leopardstown last time.

"He wasn't right at Leopardstown and (John) Cullen knew to pull him up that he wasn't himself and he scoped that badly at Christmas I didn't think we would get him back here," said the Monaghan trainer.

The enigmatic Brady, who makes no secrets of his Cheltenham ambitions, admits that he has three options for Ebadiyan when he returns in March.

"He could run in the Champion Hurdle, the World Hurdle or the 2m5f Coral Cup, I don't know where he'll go yet though. Rita didn't know I put him in the Champion Hurdle but I did!" Brady confirmed in front of delighted owner Rita Shah.

Noel Meade was unsure of options for Muirhead, who he feels should be capable of getting the trip and was left awaiting the result of a scope before assessing the defeat of his 4/7 shot.

The Grade 2 Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase was reduced to three when the live chance Beckett Rock was withdrawn, and it was the outsider of the trio, Oscar Looby, who gave Meade and Carberry some compensation following the performance of Muirhead.

Alpha Ridge was sent off favourite and contested the lead throughout with Jim Dreaper's Telenor, but it was Carberry's hold-up tactics on Oscar Looby that saw him come with a late run to win comfortably at the death.

Meade said: "We will stay at home with him and he may go for the Ten Up Chase at Navan next month and whether it is this year or next he could be a horse for the Irish Grand National.

"Paul said the ground was nearly unraceable so he handles any ground apart from real quick and he could end up in the 3m novice race at Punchestown at the end of the season."

Fortuitous

Ballyholland provided Ruby Walsh with a fortuitous spare ride as he deputised for the ill Paddy Flood, and last year's Galway Plate winner kept his Aintree Grand National hopes intact with a bonus success over hurdles -- amazingly on his first start over them.

Hot favourite Luska Lad crashed out three out giving Andrew McNamara a terrible fall but the Limerick rider was released from Naas General Hospital yesterday evening and was reported to be just very stiff and sore.

Of Ballyholland, Colm McBratney said: "The dream is still alive anyway," regarding the Aintree Grand National. "Ruby said the hurdles were just getting in his way and he wants a fence and he didn't expect him to finish like that.

"We will look for another hurdle for him before then. He really wants better ground and as Ruby said, he jumps well and it's just once he gets to the Melling Road whether he stays or not."