A winner at Graded level over hurdles and fences, Joseph O’Brien’s Darasso endured a largely disappointing campaign last season.
However, having bounced back to winning ways in a conditions hurdle at Killarney last month, the JP McManus-owned eight-year-old followed up back over the larger obstacles in County Kerry.
Ridden by Luke Dempsey, the 11-2 shot jumped well on the whole – and a slight mistake at the final obstacle was not enough to stop him scoring comfortably by seven lengths from Snow Falcon.
Dempsey said: “He is a good horse and did it nicely.
“I was eager enough to get ahead of (leader) Abbey Magic, who was jumping right – and the loose horse wasn’t helping me either.
“He was long at the last, but came up for me – and in fairness once he had hit the front he did it well in the end.
“It was a good performance.”
Denise Foster’s Samcro was the 11-4 favourite, after winning a Grade Three chase at Killarney four weeks ago, but was ultimately well beaten in sixth place.
Favourite backers were rewarded in the preceding Bryan MacMahon Handicap Hurdle, with Mark Fahey’s 100-30 chance Place Des Vosges landing the 21,000 euro feature by eight lengths in the hands of Mark Bolger.
Fahey said: “It was her first time over three miles, and you don’t know unless you try it. Mark gave her a great ride.
“I’ve had her a year and a half, and the only time she finished out of the money was when she fell one day at Fairyhouse.
“She is very consistent. It is a nice pot to win, and I’m delighted for her owners Liam and Carol Rooney, who are part of the syndicate. It is nice for them to come down here today and lead her in.
“There is a two-mile handicap for her at the Derby weekend, and she might go there.”
David Christie has next year’s Grand National meeting at Aintree on his radar for Winged Leader, following the odds-on favourite’s four-and-a-quarter-length triumph in the Join The Listowel Races Supporters Club Hunters Chase under Barry O’Neill.
Christie said: “He is a fine horse, and we were all set to go to Stratford with him, but he got injured on the walker and cut his leg and bruised himself. I thought that would be it, so we’ve had a job getting him back to here.
“He is going out on the grass this week, and next season I think I’ll aim him at Aintree (Foxhunters’ Chase). Aintree takes a horse that stays, but has the gallop to go two and a half miles.
“He goes on any ground, is only seven and is by Winged Love – and they are late developers, so you’d be hoping there is more to come.”Start your free one month trial of Racing TV now and enjoy all the action from Britain and Ireland!
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