Rating Queen & Kevin Sexton (right) jumps the last ahead of High Class Show
©Healy Racing Photos
By Donal Murphy
The 11yo Rating Queen justified favouritism as she took the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle for trainer Liz Doyle with Kevin Sexton aboard (deputising for the injured Declan Bates).
Having opened at 5/1 this morning with Paddy Powers she was backed into 7/2. She opened on-course at 4/1 before going off the 10/3 favourite.
The daughter of Shernazar won a bumper and a handicap hurdle at Thurles in 2007 and 2010 respectively but she had been disappointing since her last win until she ran well at Clonmel last time out to finish third, just over five lengths behind Chu Chu Thomas.
Prominent throughout today, she came with her challenge at three out and led entering the straight. She was strongly pressed from the second last by High Class Show but she dug deep to see that one off by half a length.
High Class Show, who was wearing blinkers for the first time, was returned at 10/1 for John Joe Walsh and Mark Enright while Serra Nova was a further seven lengths back in third under Tim Carroll for Daniel Murphy at 7/1.
Barry Murphy, partner of winning trainer Liz Doyle, said afterwards: "She came back to us last year after she lost her way a bit but she has turned the corner again now.
"She has been consistent this year and needed the run in Roscommon and ran very well at Clonmel.
"She is a real Thurles specialist though and she will come here again if there is a race for her. Limerick at Christmas is a possibility.
"She has very low mileage and she can win again."
(Addtional reporting by Thomas Weekes)