Leopardstown review: Hardback beats Low Sun

Hardback (near side) wins at Leopardstown
Hardback (near side) wins at Leopardstown

More news from Leopardstown, where Hardback and Snow Falcon were among the winners.

Hardback put up a gutsy display to stave off Low Sun in a thrilling finish to the Irish Daily Star Christmas Novice Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown.

There was nothing between the pair on the dash to the line from the final flight, but 3lb claimer Shane Shortall forced the Joseph O'Brien-trained six-year-old past the post as a narrow winner.

The 16/1 shot was completing a quick double for owners Gigginstown House Stud following the success of Apple's Jade in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle.

"It all worked out well. We tried a different tactic with him today and dropped him in and switched him off, as he was doing a bit too much in his previous races and not getting home," said Shortall.

"Things worked out really well that way and he came home really well. He missed the last, but stuck his head out and tried hard under top weight. It was a good performance."

Alighted (16/1) made a likeable debut to give O'Brien a double and Gigginstown a treble on the card in the Ballymaloe Foods INH Flat Race.

The four-year-old overcame his inexperience as he battled on stoutly for amateur Barry O'Neill to beat long-time leader Young Wolf by a length and a half.

O'Brien said: "He was quite green early on - in the early stages he was having a look at the rail. I'd say he has an engine and Barry gave him a lovely ride. He'll learn a lot and he's an exciting horse to look forward to.

"He quickened up very well and got to the line very well. It was probably a strong race so I'm really looking forward to him next year when he jumps a hurdle."

O'Neill said: "He's an exciting prospect. He was pretty green throughout. Leaving the back he was shying away from the rail.

"I was always going well and had loads of horse, but I was just afraid if he got to the front too soon would he have a look around.

"He had loads left and will improve a ton."

Snow Falcon capped a red-letter day for trainer Noel Meade and jockey Sean Flanagan when running out an easy winner of the Midland Legal Solicitors Beginners Chase.

The seven-year-old trounced the only other finisher Wishmoor to follow up the victory of Road To Respect in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase for that combination after a field of five set out.

Wishmoor, yet another wearing the colours of Gigginstown House Stud, made the running to three out where a smooth-travelling Snow Falcon laid down his bid.

The 11/8 second-favourite steadily drew away to come home 28 lengths clear.

Meade said: "I thought he'd win anyway, even if the other fella (the 5-6 favourite Bacardys) had stayed in.

"He's a fair steed and he jumps fences a lot better than he jumped hurdles. He used to blitz hurdles out of the ground and when he missed one he just missed it.

"Going over fences he's changed and does everything right."

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