PUNCHESTOWN returned yesterday and there was a sweet success for yours truly in the feature listed Grabel Mares Hurdle, as Philip Dempsey’s Jacksonslady put in a career best to land the honours.
The mare has been a great servant to the yard and was the second of my two Punchestown Kidney Research Fund Charity Race successes, so it was fantastic to see her win extremely well in the hands of Barry Geraghty and give Philip one of his biggest wins as a trainer.
Jacksonslady is clearly on the upgrade and continuing to progress so there is hopefully more to look forward to, and the kick that her co-owners Philip, Noel Farrell and Philip Smith as well as everyone in the yard got out of it really is what jump racing can be about.
Philip said afterwards: “Barry was happy with her and she is a mare that has kept improving all the time and she might get a break now until the spring. She missed the first hurdle but maybe the ground was the cause of that as she is a super jumper normally. It’s great.”
It was quite a decent early season card at Punchestown and On The Way Out’s winning debut over fences was an impressive one for John Kiely and Andy McNamara.
The former classy hurdler had lost his way somewhat in that sphere but hardly put a foot wrong with a fine display in claiming the Trinity College Racing Society Beginners Chase.
On The Way Out had an comfortable five lengths to spare over odds-on favourite Stonemaster and the winning trainer admitted: “That’s a nice start. He was always a class horse but he went up too quick in the handicap over hurdles.
“Hopefully there won’t be a repeat and we will take it step by step.”
Noel Meade continued his terrific run of form as Sword Of Destiny won the Follow Punchestown Facebook Maiden Hurdle.
Owned by Gigginstown Stud, the smashing grey was quite a facile winner and Meade went as far as to say “he could be anything”. Meade added: “He was ready to run but he wasn’t over-fit and he’ll go for a winner’s race now.”
Proceedings got underway with a shock in the juvenile hurdle as the outsider among a Gordon Elliott duo, Face Value, won with a bit in hand under Davy Condon.