O'Connor steps in for a winner
Zekarya and Derek O'Connor are clear over the last fence
(Healy Racing Photos)
Doyle was due to partner the grey gelding for his dad, Pat, but was unable to get a flight over from Bristol airport last night.
Fernhurst Lad made a bold bid from the front in the very testing ground, and had his rivals well-stretched with some fine jumping up the back straight.
However O’Connor steadily reeled in the front-runner and, after leading early in the straight, drew right away on the 6/1 chance to score by a very easy 17 lengths from Killcara Boy (9/2).
Pat Doyle said, “Jack got held up for four hours in Bristol airport last night on a flight that didn’t go, and it took him another two hours to drive home a distance that normally takes about three quarters of an hour. There was no way he could make it.
“I love winners but this one hasn’t given me as much pleasure as I would have liked. Having said that, I couldn’t be happier to get Derek O’Connor as we have a long association together. To be honest it was a fairly ordinary race.”
Additional reporting by Thomas Weekes
Immediate Response overcame a long lay-off to complete a hat-trick in handicap hurdles last spring, and the ten-year-old continues to make up for lost time with a successful debut over fences in the 2m1f beginners chase.