Felix Desjy gives Elliott first win in Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle
Gordon Elliott won the Grade 2 Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle for the first time on Sunday as Felix Desjy made all the running to win impressively and book his place at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Felix Desjy was the highlight of a very good weekend for the Meath-based trainer and was returning to winning ways for the first time since opening his account over hurdles at Galway back in October.
Sean Flanagan took the feature honours at Punchestown aboard Felix Desjy after champion jockey Davy Russell picked up an injury earlier in the day and sponsors Sky Bet cut the odds of Felix Desjy from 40/1 to 16/1 for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
“He is a horse that disappointed us a few times but we were dropping him in and I’d say that was the wrong way to ride him,” reported winning trainer Gordon Elliott.
“He likes striding along, jumps well and I thought it was a good performance. He was only beaten seven or eight lengths in the Champion Bumper, he’s a nice horse. We have him in the Dublin Racing Festival and he’ll probably go there and on to the Supreme Novices’ then.”
Elliott went on to complete a double as Jack Kennedy guided the very smart Vision D’honneur to victory in the Sportinglife.com Maiden Hurdle. The well backed Gigginstown runner progressed from his debut at Leopardstown to beat Elixir D’ainay by four and a half lengths and looks to have a big future.
“I think he's pretty smart. He was green and jumped a bit big at Leopardstown and it was probably no harm that he was beaten that day as he still has a bit to learn,” said Elliott.
“He does everything easy at home and he will go on to Leopardstown for one of the good novice races. He's a horse that won't have any trouble moving up in trip.”
Curragh based trainer Aidan Howard enjoyed the biggest success of his training career as Winter Escape caused a minor upset in the Grade 3 Total Event Rental Novice Chase.
Training his first horse for owner JP McManus, Howard’s charge racked up his hat-trick over fences when producing a very notable performance under Mark Walsh to beat the race favourite A Plus Tard by two and a quarter lengths while conceding a stone to the runner-up.
“I wasn’t expecting him to beat the favourite giving that weight away. The bit of rain that fell helped as he needs a bit of ease in the ground. He has a couple of entries for Leopardstown and we'll see how he comes out of the race. Mark gave him a great ride. He took his time, they went a good gallop so they came back to him. The first two pulled away from the rest as well. He's a good horse I think," said Howard.
There was a popular victory in the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Chase as the locally owned Peacocks Secret carried the colours of TJ McDonald.
The Shark Hanlon-trained 3/1 favourite enjoyed the front running tactics employed by Barry Browne to hold off all challengers and win for the fourth time under rules.
The Punchestown Amateur National went the way of the progressive Se Mo Laoch who was winning at Punchestown for the second time this season when obliging under Eoin Mahon for trainer Brian McMahon.
Racing returns to Punchestown on Monday with the first on a seven race card due off at 12.40pm.