Rebel strikes Newlands Gold at Naas
Rebel Gold claimed a hard-fought success for trainer Patrick Foley in the Newlands Chase at Naas.
A 5-2 chance under Denis O’Regan, the 10-year-old was stepping up to Grade Three level after some good handicap efforts of late – including a nine-length victory in the Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase.
After running prominently, the gelding jumped the last in the lead but was headed by 1-2 favourite Coeur Sublime on the approach to the last.
The two horses jumped the final obstacle almost in unison, but it was Rebel Gold who then toughed it out to cross the line a neck to the good.
“That’s brilliant, I’m absolutely delighted with him,” said Foley.
“Denis said he probably even improved and he was more impressed with him today than he was in the Dan Moore.
“Not having to make it (the running) today, for a while, was a big help to him. He doesn’t mind making it but it’s easier when you have something to fire at.
“He beat him (Coeur Sublime) off level weights today, if the ground had been soft I would have been more confident to take him on.
“I thought he might have done us for gears on that ground but Denis said he was fine on that today. It might open more options for us.
“The Grade Two at Fairyhouse at Easter, over two-three, is a realistic option for him now. Our handicap days were finished after the Dan Moore anyway and we wanted to step him up in class and see.
“The owners are brilliant to leave things to me and I’d be happy to go for the Grade Two and then maybe let him off.
“The horse will tell us, he’s taking his races super but I do want to give him a little bit of a break now after having a few runs in a short space of time.
“I’ll give him a few weeks, get him spot on for Fairyhouse and then make our minds up then. We got a Grade Three today and I couldn’t be happier with that.”
Willie Mullins has both Flat and jumps engagements in mind for Bialystok (2-1 joint-favourite) after he got off the mark for the yard in the Expert Air Farewell Antoinette Maiden Hurdle.
A three-times winner in France for Jean-Claude Rouget, Bialystok had performed with credit in two previous hurdle runs but produced late by Paul Townend, he edged victory by a head.
“We completely changed tactics, he has a lot of speed and I said to Paul to lock him up and don’t let him out until near the last. As it was I think he appeared in front too soon and was probably lucky to hold on in the end,” said Mullins.
“It was a good tactical ride from Paul at the end of the day.
I got him from Jean-Claude Rouget and he was very sorry to lose him
“I’m looking forward to going back on the Flat with him. I got him from Jean-Claude Rouget and he was very sorry to lose him.
“As the ground gets better in the spring time, he’ll find it easier to get that trip, so there will be a nice race in him over hurdles as well.”
The Mullins team were denied a double in the closing Nursery Of Champions as 2-5 favourite Ile Atlantique was headed in the final stride by Gordon Elliott’s Stellar Story (100-30).
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