Grade One wins either side of the Irish Sea raise duo’s profiles
CORNERSTONE Lad and Honeysuckle raised their profiles with respective Grade One wins either side of the Irish Sea.
Honeysuckle was enhancing a reputation already significant enough to instal her as 9-10 favourite for Sunday’s Baroneracing.com Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
Cornerstone Lad ensured a share of Saturday’s honours – with Ladbrokes Trophy winner De Rasher Counter – when he pulled off a surprise all-the-way victory by just a short head from dual Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air. The latter may miss the remainder of the campaign – having suffered a freak injury as he made a slight mistake at the second-last in Newcastle’s Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
That was no fault of Micky Hammond’s Cornerstone Lad, who battled on gamely under Henry Brooke to narrowly repel the long odds-on favourite and provide both trainer and jockey with a first Grade One success.
At Newbury, Emma Lavelle was the trainer taking the plaudits for De Rasher Counter’s decisive one-and-a-half-length win under 5lb claimer Ben Jones, in one of the season’s most highly-prized handicaps – after stable star Paisley Park had begun his season with victory at the course the previous afternoon.
The Ladbrokes Trophy has been the springboard for many champions down the years. As Lavelle begins to plot her seven-yearold’s next move, Henry de Bromhead will do likewise with Honeysuckle – who came of age in open company at the top level by trouncing Bacardys and three-time Hatton’s Grace winner Apple’s Jade by nine lengths and upwards.
With her success in the last of three Grade Ones on Fairyhouse’s stellar card, De Bromhead’s five-year-old mare was joining Envoi Allen and Fakir D’oudairies in signalling championship class after their respective wins in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and Drinmore Novice Chase. De Bromhead said: “She was brilliant, and even I could enjoy it a bit. I couldn’t believe it when [jockey] Rachael [Blackmore] took a pull on her turning in, considering the calibre of race.”
Bookmaker reaction confirmed he faces a choice between campaigns which lead to either the Mares’ or Champion Hurdle for Honeysuckle at Cheltenham.
Similar quandaries in different categories apply to Gordon Elliott and Joseph O’Brien, following the victories of Envoi Allen and Fakir D’oudairies. The latter produced an exemplary round of jumping in the Drinmore under Mark Walsh, for O’Brien, and was able to coast home by 22 lengths as 6-4 favourite after his market rival Samcro had fallen when upsides at the second-last.