OIL GOOD FOR RICH; Clear Road to glory for Cooper.
Byline: CHRIS BEECH
ROAD To Riches got his season off to a fine start, with a pillar to post victory in The Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase at Clonmel yesterday.
Sent off the 8/13 favourite, under Bryan Copper, Riches was neat and nimble at his fences and found plenty on the run in for a convincing victory over Bright New Dawn, with Felix Yonger in third.
Noel Meade expressed relief afterwards and said: "I don't usually sweat about runners, but I couldn't sleep last night. I was thinking 'would he fancy the track or the ground and going two and a half miles around here?' "But you'd have to be happy with that though and he jumped great. Bryan said he was full of running going down to the last and there is no question that he stays three miles."
He added: "Michael (O'Leary) mentioned The Durkan Chase, but I think three miles would suit him better. I'd rather run in either The Lexus or The King George. Everything in the outfit (Gigginstown) is done on a discussion basis and there'll be any amount of discussion, but the chairman usually rules anyway!" Cooper earlier steered Prince Of Scars to success in the three mile handicap hurdle for Gordon Elliott, who was completing a double after Ruby Walsh steered Jetstream Jack to a comfortable victory in the opening maiden hurdle.
The latter was due to be partnered by Davy Russell, but he was forced to give up his three rides yesterday, due to 'paperwork', but he expects to resume race riding at Punchestown this weekend.
Walsh went on to complete a treble, after he won The T A Morris Memorial Mares Chase on the Willie Mullins-trained Vroum Vroum Mag, who maintained her unbeaten record for Mullins, when she accounted for Miss Dinamic by an easy seven and a half lengths.
Walsh said: "She is so laid back that she never catches your eye at home. She isn't flashy and she keeps her best for the track."
Mullins later ruled out a crack at The Hennessey Gold Cup for the mare, but he and Walsh completed a fine day's work after the favourite Noble Inn won the finale as he liked.
CLONMEL CRACKER Bryan Cooper steers Road To Riches home yesterday