Among all of her big Flat winners over the last few weeks, Jessica Harrington has teamed up with jockey Sean O'Keeffe to land a couple of nice prizes over jumps too.
Adding to the victory of Autumn Evening in last week's Lartigue Hurdle at Listowel, Omega Racing Syndicate's Exit Poll produced a really hard-fought success in the Grade 3 Ballymore Group Irish EBF Kilbegnet Novice Chase at Roscommon's final meeting of 2021 yesterday.
The son of Elusive Pimpernel made all the running in the 2m½f contest and, after surviving a couple of early sticky jumps, really warmed to his task over the last three fences to see off the challenge of Embittered, having been briefly headed.
O'Keeffe said: "He was very game. He really stuck his head out for me from the back of the last. I needed him to come up for me at every fence down the back straight and in fairness he came up for me every time. I think he will be better over two and a half miles so that was a good performance."
He added: "He was sticky at one fence and he has taken his time to come with his jumping but he is very good now. It is great for me that Mrs Harrington put me up on him in a race like this."
Lady proves best for Connell
Galway bumper winner De Lady In Red made a successful return to hurdles in the 2m4f mares' maiden and Barry Connell might just have a useful mare on his hands.
In a race run at a proper gallop, with the runners strung out from halfway, the daughter of Jet Away was sent to the front by Barry O'Neill halfway down the back straight. With a high cruising speed and some slick jumping she had the race won before the final flight. Doing her share of idling on the run-in led to favourite Humble Glory closing the gap at the line but the margin of three-quarters of a length flattered the runner-up.
"She keeps improving and when these mares start doing that, you have a chance", said Connell.
He added: "Barry said she jumps like a handicapper. We'll probably go for a winners-of-one next. After that there is the Listed Voler La Vedette Mares Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in early December over 2m4f. If we are still going forward we can go the Listed route."
O'Neill caps a good day
O'Neill was also among the winners in the concluding bumper on the Peter Fahey-trained newcomer The Big Doyen. The four-year-old was as green as they come, taking a false step early in the straight and then drifting right over to the far rail when asked to race. But he was impressive in beating the more-experienced Ballyglass by a length and a half.
"He's a nice horse but wants an ease in the ground," said Fahey, adding: "We'll keep to bumpers for now but he's not one we'll over-face and we'll give him a bit of time."