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Hard Target fires home under Quirke

Cian Quirke steers Hard Target homeCian Quirke steers Hard Target home
© Photo Healy Racing

Hard Target (5/1) sluiced through the attritional ground in Clonmel for a wide-margin victory in the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.

He moved clear with 10/3 favourite Fox Le Bel as the race unfolded before two out. The five-year-old gelding took approaching that flight and readily asserted before the last.

He kept up the gallop to score by nine and a half lengths from Lake Chad (9/2) who got up for second by a neck from a tiring Fox Le Bel.

Trainer Harry Kelly said: "He was a bit unlucky a couple of days and hit the front a bit soon here one day. He was left at the start another day in Tramore and also ran into traffic trouble in Fairyhouse the last day.

"We weren't sure about the ground but I said to Cian (Quirke) to keep him wide, away from horses and for the better ground and it worked out a treat.

"The plan coming here was to hopefully win if he handled the ground and leave him off but we'll see about running him at Christmas now.

"He was backward and weak and is only coming to himself. I'm delighted for the owners who have been very patient and are brilliant. Tom Farrell, from Littleton, heads the syndicate and there are other members around the country."

Additional reporting by Tom Weekes

About Michael Graham
Michael has worked in horse racing journalism for more than 15 years, having also written a weekly betting column on Gaelic football and hurling for a newspaper. He is involved in writing the My Racing Story features on this website. He spent a year in South Africa completing a Diploma in Business Administration and also studied Newspaper Journalism in Belfast. He enjoys playing 5-a-side football on a regular basis.