A Grade 1 double for graduates of the Doyle brothers Monbeg Stables brought a successful conclusion to the Festive racing.
Last year’s Albert Bartlett hero Monkfish, who had won his four-year-old maiden at Stowlin for Cormac Doyle, notched up his second Grade 1 success in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase.
Taking up the lead at the tenth fence, the Stowaway gelding was strongly pressed by his Albert Bartlett rival Latest Exhibition before pulling clear after the last to win the €80,000 contest by three lengths for Willie Mullins.
The winning trainer indicated that the Flogas Chase back at the Foxrock venue’s Dublin Racing Festival on the opening weekend February would be his next port of call.
It was then the turn of Doyle’s elder brother Donnchadh to enjoy further Grade 1 success when his Lingstown four-year-old maiden winner Bravemansgame marked himself out as a serious talent when leading home a clean sweep of the placings for Irish point-to-point exports in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury.
Sent off as the 5/2 joint-favourite following successes for Paul Nicholls at Exeter and Newbury since being snapped up for £370,000 at the Tattersalls Cheltenham Cheltenham Festival Sale last year, the five-year-old made almost all of the running before drawing clear from the final flight to provide Nicholls with his 99th winner of the season.
Star Gate, who had won his four-year-old maiden for Colin Bowe at Bellharbour in February finished second, with The Glancing Queen, also a four-year-old winner Bowe’s Milestone Stables completing the placings.
Nicholls had last won the Grade 1 contest with fellow pointing recruit Denman in 2006 and the Champion trainer did not shy away from signalling the Brave Mansonnien gelding out as a potential star for the future, with the bay now favourite for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Their brother Sean was not to be outdone, enjoying black type success with one of his own graduates, when Annie Mc, who had chased home Honeysuckle in a four-year-old mares’ maiden at Dromahane, landing the Doncaster feature, the £40,000 Yorkshire Silver Vase Mares Chase for Jonjo O’Neill.
Following her wide-margin success, the new Mares Chase at the Cheltenham Festival was signalled as a potential spring target.