Sharjah wins a fourth Matheson Hurdle

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Sharjah (5/6f) joined Hurricane Fly and Istabraq as a four-time winner of the Matheson Hurdle, when claiming the feature race on day 4 of Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

Winner of the two-mile event for the past three years, the Patrick Mullins-ridden bay gelding battled Zanahiyr (5/1) by a neck in the closing stages of the long run-in, as the final hurdle was omitted due to the low sun.

An ultra-consistent son of Doctor Dino as a 10-time winner  – six at Grade 1 level – and 20-times placed horse, Sharjah now brings his career earning to almost €900,000. It was a 21st Grade 1 success for the winning trainer’s jockey son, Patrick.

Elliott and Kennedy take another Grade 1

There was another Grade 1 chase victory for Gordon Elliott on the final day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. The Cullentra House Stables handler produced a 1-2 in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase.

In the 8-runner race over 3 miles, it was the outsider of Elliott’s two runners that claimed the €59,000 top prize. Jack Kennedy steered Fury Road (7/1) to a comfortable 8 length win from the Davy Russell-ridden favourite Run Wild Fred (9/4f). The prominent Vanillier (5/2) stayed on for third spot, 10 lengths behind the runner-up, and just a short-head in front of Max Flamingo (28/1) in fourth.

Royal Kahala benefits from step up in distance

The Grade 3 Advent Surety Irish EBF Mares Hurdle saw the return to action of the Closutton Racing Club-owned Shewearsitwell (9/4f). Unbeaten in three runs to date, the daughter of Shirocco hadn’t seen a racecourse since Tipperary in October 2020. It wasn’t to be a successful return, however, as the filly and Paul Townend parted company at the first hurdle after the main stand.

It was Royal Kahala (11/4), up in distance from 2 miles 2 furlongs, who took the spoils, wearing down the brave front-running Heaven Help Us (5/1) at the line, winning by a neck from the Paul Hennessy-handled daughter of Yeats, with a further length back to the top-weight Telmesomethinggirl (11/1).

Journey With Me Remains Unbeaten

Kilcruit, beaten at odd of 1/14 at Cork earlier this month, went on a retrieval mission in the Pigsback.com Maiden Hurdle, but this time around the Willie Mullins-handled son of Stowaway found two his better.

Journey With Me (3/1), trained by Henry De Bromhead for Robcour, and ridden by Rachael Blackmore, maintain his unbeaten race record, having previously won a Point-to-Point at Ballindenisk and then a bumper at Gowran Park, when coming home with three and a half lengths to spare over Minella Crooner (12/1) with race favourite Kilcruit (4/9f) well held a further length and a quarter back in third.

Winning trainer Henry De Bromhead said of Journey With Me: “I’m delighted with him – he’s a lovely horse.”

Philip Rothwell’s Siberian Star (8/1) was an easy 11-length winner of the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Steeplechase under jockey Paddy O’Hanlon for owners Scrub A Dub Dub Syndicate.

The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle went the way of Good Time Johnny (6/1) for Meath trainer Tony Martin and jockey Kevin Sexton – a double on the day for the rider.

The concluding Plusvital Flat Race was won by The Nice Guy (1/1), completing a double on the day for Patrick and Willie Mullins. It also gave the Closutton team a clean sweep of all four bumpers at the 2021 Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

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