A review of the pick of the action from Thurles where Flame Bearer and Summerville Boy both regained the winning thread.
Flame Bearer turned in a fine round of jumping to regain the winning thread in the Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Chase at Thurles.
Representing the Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning team of Willie Mullins and Paul Townend, Flame Bearer was sent off the 11/10 favourite for this Grade Three affair despite having suffered defeat on his two most recent starts.
He proved no match for his stablemate El Fabiolo – victorious in the Arkle on Tuesday – while the reopposing Indiana Jones had him back in third in the Flyingbolt Novice Chase at Navan at the start of the month.
However, in receipt of 7lb from that rival this time around, Flame Bearer made no mistakes, travelling supremely well for Townend before grabbing the lead turning for home.
He fairly cantered clear and took the last with plenty in hand, eventually coming home a 13-length winner over Upping The Anti, with Indiana Jones only fourth.
Paul Townend said: “I thought after he ran the last day that he would be better left go along (in front) and he got into a better rhythm jumping.
“He still needs to brush up a bit, but he knows where his feet are and he likes being left to do that. He has a mistake in him, but he warmed up to it quite well and turned around form with Indiana Jones “
Summerville Boy rolled back the years as he won for the first time since 2020.
Winner of the Tolworth and Supreme Novices’ Hurdles when trained by Tom George back in 2018, Summerville Boy had not struck gold since winning at Aintree in November over two years ago.
Off the track for 420 days before debuting for Henry de Bromhead on New Year’s Eve, Summerville Boy was last seen coming home a distant second to subsequent Stayers’ Hurdle runner-up Teahupoo in the Galmoy Hurdle at the end of January.
Dropped down in company for the End Of The Season Hurdle, Summerville Boy (4/1) appeared to up against it with Asterion Forlonge, who was having his first run since finishing seventh in the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Asterion Forlonge was sent off 10/11 favourite but his lack of fitness appeared to tell when Rachael Blackmore went for home on the front-running Summerville Boy and the now 11-year-old kept on strongly to win by four and a half lengths.
Blackmore said: “He had been doing things nicely, had been schooling well and were hoping to get a day like that out of him. My lad is a lot fitter (than Asterion Forlonge) so had that on his side and that was a help.”
Blackmore and De Bromhead enjoyed two Grade One winners at the Cheltenham Festival with Envoi Allen claiming Thursday’s Ryanair Chase, but Honeysuckle’s victory in the Mares’ Hurdle on Tuesday was arguably the highlight of the week.
The dual Champion Hurdle winner bowed out in style with a fourth Festival strike and Blackmore was delighted to see immensely popular runner bow out on a high.
She added: “It was an incredible week and Tuesday was a day I’ll never forget.
“That feeling from the very top of the chute, the whole way back in, the whole way back around into the winner’s enclosure, with the masses of crowds all looking at her, was incredible.
“Every letter I get in the post from kids mentions Honeysuckle, so there are a lot of people cheering me on and I’m delighted for everyone that we delivered on Tuesday. In this sport it doesn’t always happen, so it is fantastic.
“I was feeling the pressure on the build-up and you wouldn’t be human if you weren’t feeling it but it is a class position to be in. She was really on song and it is a big thanks to the team and to Henry.”
Michael O’Sullivan rode Marine Nationale to Supreme glory on Tuesday and he was back among the winners at Thurles as Time To Rocco (4/1) lifted the Dillon Quirke Foundation Mares Beginners Chase.
Routine Excellence (12/1) landed the Jimmy Neville Memorial Handicap Chase, while Lorna Fowler’s Tophill Low (3/1) opened his account in the Adare Manor Opportunity Maiden Hurdle.
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