Grade One wins ei­ther side of the Irish Sea raise duo’s pro­files

Evening Times - - SPORT -

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 Baroneraci­ 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.

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