thurles 13th Feb
Speckled Wood clears the last
(Healy Racing Photos)
The five-year-old is out of Roche's former stable star Like-A-Butterfly, who is one of the best horses to carry McManus' green and gold silks but died last week after a bout of colic.
Her daughter was sent off the 8-11 favourite to make it third-time lucky here and after taking the lead off Ma Belle Amie at the final flight, she wasn't hard pressed to score by four and three-quarter lengths.
Rolly Baby (5-2 favourite) made a sparkling return to action in the thurles.ie (C & G) Maiden Hurdle.
Willie Mullins' eight-year-old hadn't been seen since an encouraging debut second in November 2010, but showed no signs of rustiness as he made excellent headway to lead between the last couple of flights and he careered 10 lengths clear of Follow The Sign on the run-in.
The 4-1 shot appeared booked for a comfortable success when collaring Davy From Milan approaching the final flight, but his rival regained the initiative, only for Walsh to conjure one last rally out of his mount, who prevailed by a head.
Luke's Benefit (6-1) was a costly failure over fences at Naas but capitalised on a comparatively lenient timber figure by stealing a march on his Clonmore Handicap Hurdle opponents and he never looked like being caught, eventually passing the post with seven lengths in hand of Kilmainham.
Unoccupied (10-1) was another to take advantage of a mark lower than his chase rating when landing the Killinan Handicap Hurdle, while the Denis Hogan-trained 11-2 chance Missie Ella continued her recent consistency when holding off War Correspondent in the Littleton Handicap Hurdle.
Unoccupied stuck at it best to land the spoils in a stamina sapping Killinan Handicap Hurdle at Thurles.