Teahupoo battles to Limerick spoils for Gordon Elliott

Tenacious Teahupoo displayed admirable battling qualities to enter the Champion Hurdle picture by coming out on top in a thrilling renewal of the BoyleSports Sporting Limerick Hurdle yesterday.

ordon Elliott’s inmate was installed 8/15 favourite for the Grade Two feature after a 12-length victory over the reopposing Quilixios in last month’s Fishery Lane Hurdle at Naas.

Quilixios, a former stablemate of Teahupoo who went on to win last season’s Triumph Hurdle for Henry de Bromhead, was next in the betting at 11/4 and the old foes fought out a terrific duel up the straight.

Jumping well, Teahupoo led the way for much of this two-mile contest in the hands of Jordan Gainford, but looked set for minor honours after Quilixios and Darragh O’Keeffe swept into the lead approaching the penultimate flight.

However, there was an unexpected twist in the tale after the last, with Teahupoo rallying strongly for pressure – and getting back up to prevail by half a length.

“He was a bit idle in front and we didn’t go mad. It actually suited me when I had something to attack over the last two.

“He really put his neck out for me and tries,” said Gainford. “He winged the last two and is a smart horse to look forward to in the spring.”

Betfair cut Teahupoo to 12/1 from 16s for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham – a route which the Gavin Cromwell-trained Espoir D’Allen took in 2019.

Robert Tyner took the training honours by saddling a treble – initiated by Big Debates (11/2) which knuckled down well under 5lb claimer Jack Foley to see off Auckland by a length in the Greenmount Equine Hospital Rated Novice Hurdle over two miles.

Split The Bucket (4/1) then struck gold in the Connolly’s Red Mills Auction Maiden Hurdle in the hands of Mark Walsh, who later completed a double of his own by guiding the Kinsale trainer’s Womalko (5/4 favourite) to a comfortable victory in the Party Time Handicap Hurdle over two miles, three furlongs.

“Big Debates won well. He’s been consistent and he’ll probably go back over fences again. We’ll see what’s suitable for him,” said Tyner.

“We always liked Split The Bucket a lot but he just had a lot of little problems, nothing major. He has a nice way about him.

“The horses are in good form and it’s nice to get the three on one day. I think I had a treble in Clonmel before, and I’ve had three winners seven times in point-to-points.”

Foley was another rider to record a double as the talented youngster steered Regina Dracones (3/1) to a gutsy victory for Thomas Gibney in the staying novice handicap chase.

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