Mouse Morris saddled his third winner of the Clonmel Oil Chase with Alpha Des Obeaux
Gordon Elliott plundered the honours when it came to quantity, but the quality went to local trainer Mouse Morris on Thursday in Powerstown Park as Alpha Des Obeaux rediscovered his best form to take this year’s Clonmel Oil Chase.
The 7/1 shot had little support in the market pre-race, but took up the running three fences from home and with a canny ride from Sean Flanagan held off the challenge of fellow Gigginstown challenger A Toi Phil, with Balko Des Flos taking third, also in the familiar maroon-and-white colours.
A delighted Mouse Morris had to be reminded afterwards it was his third win in the track’s blue riband event, after the successes of Belvederian in 1994 and War of Attrition in 2006.
The latter went on to take the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following March but the Fethard trainer isn’t sure that will be Alpha Des Obeaux’s target.
“I’d say it will probably be handicaps,” he said. “He’s just that bit short of being the real McCoy. The year before last he was always just falling a bit short.”
Nevertheless, it was only the excellent Thistlecrack who got the better of him in Cheltenham in that year’s staying hurdling division, and last season was one to put line through as a novice chaser. “He deserves this,” Mouse added. “He’s had two good races this year and he’s capable of running like that.”
It proved another successful running of the Clonmel Oil Chase as the weather played ball this time around, providing organisers and patrons with a dry, crisp, cloudless afternoon and the track duly filled up.
“It’s a bumper crowd,” racecourse manager DJ Histon said, “and it’s good to see some local success. The last time Mouse won this was with War of Attrition so he’s repeating history after a long gap. It’s nice for the winners to come from different stables, just to see it circulate.”
Brian Connolly of sponsors Clonmel Oil said it’s a partnership they are delighted to renew. “It’s great to see such a crowd and on such a good day. The racing is good and we have a fine competitive field in the big race. The winners nearly always go on to bigger and better things.”
Clonmel Oil, and their associated service stations on the Waterford Road and Prior Park Road, always like to support local events, Brian added. “It’s about supporting the local track and giving something back to the community. That’s what we do. We give back to the people who support us throughout the year. Whether it’s GAA or racing or whatever, we try and do our bit to help.”
The previous few winners of the big race have been from the yards of Willie Mullins, Henry De Bromhead, Noel Meade, and Edward O’Grady and the prize remains unclaimed by Gordon Elliott.
However, the afternoon was otherwise a roaring success for the Meath handler as he scored a four-timer which was kicked off by Folsom Blue (10/1) in the Clonmel Oil Service Station Handicap Hurdle, winning for the Core Partnership, represented on the day by At The Races broadcaster Gary O’Brien.
Dinaria Des Obeaux (4/6F) took a competitive TA Morris Memorial Irish EBG Mares’ Steeplechase for the Elliott/Jack Kennedy partnership; followed by another odds-on obliger Hardline (1/3F) in the Prior Park Service Station Clonmel Hurdle; with Warlike Intent (5/6F) wrapping things up in the Clonmel Oil Slan Abhaile Flat Race.
That made it five wins on the day for Gigginstown, with the opening race taken by Manger Et Trotter (7/1) for JP McManus, Enda Bolger and jockey Mark Walsh; and Henry De Bromhead scoring in the second with Poker Party (13/2), owned by local man Brian Acheson of Robcour and ridden by promising Waterford claimer Dylan Robinson.
There to enjoy the action on the day were groups from the UCD and UCC horseracing societies who got a warm Powerstown Park welcome, and now racing fans are turning their attention to the last meeting of the calendar year at Clonmel, on December 7 when the big race will be the Jim Strang & Sons Kilsheelan Peugeot Hurdle.