Ken Whelan sits on the fence as riders go out for division one of the race named in his honour at Thurles
©Healy Racing Photos
By Donal Murphy
Saoirse Dun followed up on his recent win at Naas as he took division one the Ken Whelan Hangs Up His Boots Handicap Chase under Paul Townend for trainer Philip Rothwell.
The 6yo son of Flemensfirth went up eleven pounds after his win at Naas but that didn’t stop him this afternoon as he maintained his 100% record in handicap chases.
The lightly raced gelding was settled toward the rear in the early stages before he made headway on the outer to go sixth at the halfway stage.
He progressed to dispute the lead at the fourth last and he was ridden on the run to the final fence.
He gained a slight advantage at the last and he kept on best on the run-in to score by a length and three parts at the line from the Pauline Gavin trained Optime in second at 12/1 (opened at 16/1 on-course) under Adrian Heskin.
The John Joe Walsh trained Steady Ed kept on after the last to take third, a further length and a half back under Brian O’Connell at 5/1, while Ponmeword completed the placings four and a half lengths back in fourth at 9/1 under Robbie Power for Eric McNamara.
Philip Rothwell said afterwards: "He had sixteen pounds more than he had the last day, including the claim and I thought the eleven pound penalty was a bit harsh.
"He is improving and he is going the right way. He will stick to handicaps as he is not good enough for novice races."
As if it wasn't bad enough he was jocked off the winner Declan Bates suffered a suspected fracture to his collarbone after he was unseated from the Liz Doyle trained Borolee.
(Additional reporting by Thomas Weekes)