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Easy Game lands Devenish again for Mullins at Fairyhouse after hot favourite falls

There were wins for Darasso for O’Brien and McManus and Elliott’s Iberique Du Seuil too.

Brian Hayes onboard Easy Game (file pic).
Brian Hayes onboard Easy Game (file pic).
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

LAST YEAR’S WINNER Easy Game landed an eventful renewal of the Devenish Chase at Fairyhouse.

A field of six runners went to post for the Grade Two contest, with Easy Game a 15-2 chance to successfully defend his crown for Willie Mullins in the hands of Brian Hayes.

There was an early change to the complexion of the race after the winner’s front-running stablemate Blackbow suffered a heavy and ultimately fatal fall at the third fence, leaving another Mullins runner in Janidil in front.

The latter was the 8-11 favourite having been placed in the Irish Gold Cup and the Ryanair Chase on his last two starts, but he too crashed out in the back straight.

His exit left Cilaos Emery in the lead, but he was claimed by Easy Game between the final two fences and there were seven and a half lengths separating the pair at the line.

Mullins said: “It was a little fortuitous. I thought the horse would need the race but he finished out very well and jumped well.

“I’m very happy for Nick Peacock, the owner. It’s disappointing with Janidil falling and the other fella (Blackbow) unfortunately didn’t make it. Unfortunately that’s the ups and downs of the game.

“He is a big loss. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Paul (Townend) yet, but I’m not sure if he had a heart attack before the fence as he didn’t get up at all.”

luke-dempsey-onboard-darasso-comes-home-to-win Luke Dempsey onboard Darasso comes home to win. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

Meanwhile, Darasso stamped his class on the Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Hurdle.

With Flame Bearer and Thedevilscoachman both significant non-runners, the admirable Darasso was a 7-2 shot to secure his fifth win at Graded level for trainer Joseph O’Brien and owner JP McManus.

Ridden by Luke Dempsey, the blinkered nine-year-old took over the lead from Heaven Help Us early in the home straight before being challenged by the strong-travelling 3-1 favourite Santa Rossa, who was bidding to provide his trainer Dermot McLoughlin with a third winner in two days.

But Darasso refused to bend in front, galloping on strongly from the second-last and pinging the final flight to seal his six-length victory.

O’Brien said: “He’s a great horse, he turns up every day and runs his race. That’s all you can ask for.

“He’s a little bit short of Grade One level but all you can ask for is that they do their best and he’s a joy to have around.

“You can go two miles or three miles in a chase or hurdle and you kind of know what you are going to get with him. It’s very unusual for a horse to be like that.

“I’m not sure what’s in Punchestown for him. We put him in the Champion Hurdle and he might sneak around there and see what happens, but we’ll see how he comes out of today as this was his target.”

Gordon Elliott’s Iberique Du Seuil caused a minor upset in the Donohue Marquees Juvenile Hurdle.

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Triumph Hurdle fourth Icare Allen was all the rage as the 4-11 favourite, but while he travelled strongly into the straight, his challenge petered out between the final two flights.

Innatendue approached the last with a narrow lead, but 12-1 shot Iberique Du Seuil joined him in the air and finished the stronger to prevail by two and a quarter lengths.

“That was great and it’s nice to get a winner. We’ve had a winner each day and it’s very important,” said Elliott.

“It’s great for Noel and Valerie (Moran, owners) at their local track. They are great supporters so it’s brilliant.

“We thought before today we’d be looking at something like the Lartigue at Listowel and I’d imagine we could look at the Galway Hurdle.”

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