Oh to be in Ireland now that autumn is here!

There are several hundred reasons why I would rather be residing in Ireland. Two of those being:  1) They are not sweltering in a ridiculous Indian summer! 2) Their National Hunt season has kicked off in fine style already!
Yesterday’s meeting at Tipperary featured wins from Cheltenham Festival hero First Lieutenant and ‘pantomime villain’ The Real Article! First Lieutenant made his chasing debut in the Grade Three Like A Butterfly Novices Chase. After lying in second place for the majority of the race, he asserted into the home straight and although he did peck at the last it certainly wasn’t a costly error. Slieveardagh fared best of the rest; he tried to mount a challenge two out but could never gain the upper hand coming home 1 ¾ lengths in second. Better ground is the key to him.

First Lieutenant is a best priced 12/1 for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March. Trainer Mouse Morris indicated that he was not fully wound up for this assignment. There is plenty more to come from last season’s Neptune winner.

The Real Article was the subject of controversy after being handled with kid gloves against Captain Cee Bee over the same course in July. However this time, he caught the eye for all the right reasons in the Grade Two friends of Tipperary Hurdle. You cannot fail to be impressed with the way he travelled throughout the race and the manner in which he stayed on resolutely to score by 8 lengths from Luska Lad. Captain Cee Bee had been set to renew rivalry but the heavy going ruled him out of the contest.

The Real Article will now feature at Down Royal in early November for the Grade two Hurdle. Already being quoted at 33/1 for the Champion Hurdle itself, he looks a horse to keep on the right side of. According to his Trainer Edward O’Grady it was illness that kept him absent for most of last season. That misfortune certainly hasn’t had any lasting effect.

Also on show at Tipperary was Tavern Times who filled fourth place in the Supreme Novices Hurdle last season.  He won easily by 17 lengths and could be on target for a shot at the Grade One Royal Bond Hurdle.

Cathryn Fry – 3 October 2011

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