Mary Frances and The Conditional combine to give Hassett a first double

Friday, Mar 9 2018

Mary Frances' runaway success in the Thurles Handicap Hurdle was the highlight of a double on the afternoon for trainer Martin Hassett.

Sean Flanagan set the pace on the 5-1 chance, and she appeared to have seen off all her rivals apart from favourite Sir Carno nearing the end of the back straight.

The market leader soon came under pressure, whereas Mary Frances kept up the gallop and passed the post 25 lengths to the good over O'Ceallaigh at odds of 5-1.

Hassett said: "When you're doing a double, you have to do it in your home track! That's my first double and she did it in style and never came off the bridle.

"She's a mudlark despite being only a pony, and when Robbie Power rode her the last day, he said the day when it's almost unraceable is the day she's going to win, and he was right. It is hard to imagine because she is so small.

"She is a half-sister to Jazz Messenger and we'll take it race by race with her but will look for black type eventually."

The Conditional denied Caltex in a head-bobbing finish to the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle to initiate the Hassett brace.

The pair slipped either side of long-time leader Robin The Hare on the turn for home, with Caltex apparently travelling just the better.

Gordon Elliott's charge got away from the last with a little more momentum, but Andrew Lynch conjured one last challenge from The Conditional (3-1) and Hassett's charge lunged to get up by a head.

Hassett said: "We're delighted and Andrew said he'd improve 10 or 15 lengths from the last day, and he was a horse we always liked.

"Normally we'd have those type of horses sold but we wanted to prove a point with this lad. Selling is the name of the game and if we can sell them, we sell them but if we don't, we stay going.

"We said we'd come here and it is our home venue and Andrew was very sweet on him. He is a nice horse and jumped a lot better today.

"If he's not now sold we could look at some of the festival meetings but obviously Cheltenham is out of the question!"

The trainer added: "I've only four horses in training and work full-time in Coolmore so it's a family operation.

"Last week was very frustrating and I spent five nights in a row getting up every hour to clear the gallop with the tractor, but still we ended up missing three days exercising the horses.

"I was going to work as well and thank god the schools were closed because my young lad stayed on until 2am one morning and then I got up and did it then.

"The elements did eventually beat us and there's now a foot of snow on the gallop. This is great for everyone, though, and now we've a double up, we might feel like real trainers!"

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