Barry Connell will consider a return to Leopardstown for the Dublin Racing Festival with Good Land following a thoroughly impressive display in the Pigsback.com Maiden Hurdle.
The owner-trainer has already unearthed one Grade One-winning novice hurdler this season in the form of Royal Bond hero Marine Nationale.
But while that exciting youngster is being kept fresh for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, Good Land will be given more experience – potentially at Grade One level.
The Wexford bumper winner got no further than the first flight on his hurdling bow at Fairyhouse earlier in the month, but bounced back in some style under 5lb claimer Michael O’Sullivan as he pulled eight lengths clear of Tag Man.
“We’ve hit the bar here before and I actually never rode a winner here, so that’s brilliant – everyone wants to have a winner at Leopardstown at Christmas,” said Connell.
“We brought three here, the first two we fancied and they ran well, but this guy was the banker of the week. He’s gone in and we’re thrilled.
“He’s all stamina so I knew 2½ miles today, up the hill, would be right up his street.
“He went at the first [in Fairyhouse] and it can happen any novice. He was a little careful, screwed and pitched on landing. He’s a good jumper, you can see there today.
“I don’t know how strong the race was, but he couldn’t have been any more impressive.”
Considering future plans, he added: “I thought coming into today we might be looking at something like the Michael Purcell, which is a Grade Three in Thurles, but I’m going to make an entry for the two-mile-six Grade One at the Dublin Racing Festival. On the back of that he’s entitled to an entry.
“This horse is obviously more of a stayer than Marine Nationale, who is very quick. He’d be able to work with the other horse, but he wouldn’t be as quick as him.
“Marine Nationale is on his holidays in Cork. He’s out on grass and will be back in about two weeks. We’ll have him back in the middle of January and he’ll go straight to Cheltenham. We’ll get a racecourse gallop into him somewhere.”
Seddon continued his resurgence with a runaway success in the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Chase.
Placed in graded company over hurdles a few years ago, results have been mixed for the nine-year-old since, but he appears to have found a new lease of life since joining John McConnell.
After placing at Cartmel and Navan on his first two starts for new connections, Seddon won a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham in October and was a 7-2 favourite returning the larger obstacles.
With amateur rider Ben Harvey keeping the ride, the Stowaway gelding moved into a clear lead a long way from home, jumped accurately and never really looked like being reeled in – ultimately coming home 13 lengths clear of nearest pursuer Archies Charm.
McConnell said: “It’s all down to the lads in the syndicate that wanted to run because I was getting very watery about the ground. It seemed to make no difference to him.
“He jumped great, Ben was always happy that he was going the right pace and it’s great to have a guy with a brain and a clock in his head. I was never worried he was going too fast because Ben is such a good rider.
“On his handicap mark, compared to his hurdle mark, he was entitled to run very well. When he won in Cheltenham, this was always the plan, to come here. We thought we’d get nice ground here and then it started to rain. We got a little bit worried but what a horse.
“Mr handicapper is going to have his say now. He’s going to get into the hurdle race in Cheltenham off the mark he’s on now and probably the chase as well, so we can do what we want and he doesn’t owe us anything now.”
Charles and Philip Byrnes teamed up to land the INH Stallion Owners EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle with the gambled-on 7-4 favourite Green Glory.
“It was great to win that, the same connections won it nine years ago with Sea Light,” said the winning trainer.
“He was getting a lot of weight off the second and he gave him a lovely, cool ride. He came there and got a great jump at the last.
“We’ll find something again over that trip.”
Willie Mullins enjoyed a treble on the card, with the Grade Three success of Shewearsitwell followed by Grade One wins for Gaillard Du Mesnil and State Man.
The champion trainer was double-handed in his bid for a 17th winner of the week at Leopardstown and Limerick combined, but his pair of Lecky Watson and Special Cadeau had to make do with second and third respectively in the concluding bumper behind 16-1 newcomer Fascile Mode, trained by his brother Tom Mullins.
He said: “He did a blinding bit of work a week ago. He was always a nice horse and he ticks all the boxes – he’s a nice horse and he has the pedigree.
“When he did a nice bit of work we said we’d take a chance here. We were going to run Monday but Charlie [Mullins, the trainer’s son] was injured so we came here instead.
“Charlie is cool, he’s only 18 but he’s a very good rider.
“He’s obviously a very good horse to do that first time – he beat a heap of winners there. Hopefully the phone will be ringing and hopefully one of those multimillionaires will come and buy him.”