In another major early winter upset Footpad lost his unbeaten record over fences in today’s Grade 3 Poplar Square Chase at Naas where the English raider Saint Calvados ran out a deserving winner.
After winning four times at Grade 1 level last season Footpad was the 4/9 favourite to see off his three rivals but he made a couple of significant mistakes during the course of the race and he looked held when he departed at the last fence.
By contrast Saint Calvados produced a fluent display from the front under Gavin Sheehan and he ran out a comfortable four and a half lengths winner over Tycoon Prince justifying the decision of connections to travel to Naas for the Grade 3 event.
“That was a good performance and I’m delighted for the horse and his owners Andrew and Kate Brooks,” said winning trainer Harry Whittington.
“This horse is a proper two miler with gears and Gavin felt he was just hacking around. He’s only five which is so exciting and we’ll roll on to the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown now,” added Whittington.
“I’m not sure what we will do after the Tingle Creek but I’d be tempted to give him a break after that and bring him back for a run in February before heading to Cheltenham.”
Saint Calvados is a 5/1 chance with the race sponsors for next month’s Betfair Tingle Creek Chase.
There was further drama in the Grade 3 Fishery Lane Hurdle where Espoir D’allen emerged victorious on his first outing since February for Navan-based trainer Gavin Cromwell.
However, the outcome of this race hung in the balance at the last flight where the favourite Saldier crashed out when possibly holding a slender lead over the eventual winner.
“You would have loved to have won on merit and I don’t know if he’d have won as it was all up in the air,” said Cromwell.
“Coming here I wasn’t sure whether he was good enough but I’m delighted with that and I wouldn’t rule out him going for the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse next month,” added the trainer.
Espoir D’allen was the middle leg of a near 38/1 treble for local jockey Mark Walsh. The Kildare native won the opening maiden hurdle on the Joseph O’Brien-trained Rhinestone who justified his position as odds on favourite, but only narrowly, holding off the sustained challenge of Envious Editor by just a shorthead.
Walsh later went on to win the Sky Sports Racing Brown Lad Handicap Hurdle on De Name Escapes Me. Noel Meade’s eight-year-old was a fairly emphatic winner of the valuable €50,000 contest, providing Walsh with a third successive win in the Grade B race and a fourth win in five years following previous victories on Give Me A Break in 2014, Sir Scorpion in 2016 and Oscar Knight last year.
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