The first three jockeys home in the opener at Limerick, from left to right; Emmet Mullins, Mick Darcy & Brian O'Connell
©Healy Racing Photos
By Donal Murphy
Trainer Mark Roper recorded his first winner in 1586 days as his Courtly Conduct took the opener at Limerick this afternoon, the Roches Feeds Maiden Hurdle.
Roper, who trains in the Curragh, last tasted success on the 23rd of August 2008 when his Kingsdale Pacific won a maiden hurdle at Tralee.
This afternoon his winning 7yo son of Court Cave was having his third start over hurdles and he had shown plenty of ability in the past in bumpers and on his two previous hurdle outings.
Sent off the 9/4 joint favourite he tracked the leaders in the early stages and he closed up and travelled well from before the straight.
He soon led and went clear and he stayed on well up the home straight to win comfortably by six lengths under Mick Darcy.
Captainofthefleet finished second under Brian O’Connell for trainer Eamonn O’Connell at 11/1 while the other 9/4 joint favourite was Mr Groocock and he finished three parts of a length back in third under Emmet Mullins for his uncle Willie Mullins.
Mark Roper said afterwards: "He was entitled to do that after his run behind Ned Buntline. We always thought he was decent and he finish third in a good bumper at Down Royal three years ago to the day.
"He had a very small tendon problem but then he aggravated it so we had to give him more time.
"I have no real plans for him. His jockey said he liked the ground."
(Additional reporting by Thomas Weekes)