It may have looked tight to neutral observers but School Boy Hours’ Paddy Power Chase success was never in doubt for Noel Meade, writes Paul Martin.
The eight-year-old got up at the perfect time under Sean Flanagan to pip Ben Dundee to the €110,000 prize pot in the three-mile contest at Leopardstown and earn the trainer’s first win in the race since Cross Appeal did the honours a decade ago.
It marked just a second career victory under rules for School Boy Hours – and a first over fences – and has repaid the faith of a justified Meade.
“He has been an unlucky horse for a long time and it’s great to win a big race like that,” the trainer said.
“A whole lot of bits and pieces happened that stopped him going forward. He’s eight now and that’s only his second race win, it’s hard to believe.
“I really fancied him and I told Sean I think he’d win. He went to Navan last week and really worked well. I thought coming to the last we’d beat him [Ben Dundee] and he goes well fresh.”
The favourites didn’t come to the party in the three-mile contest, with The Bosses Oscar pulling up and Alfa Mix finishing down the field.
That left the door ajar and two 33/1 shots looked like bursting through it as Ben Dundee and Birchdale cleared the last in front.
The latter faded but Andrew Lynch’s nine-year-old, with Ben Harvey on board, kept the pace until challenged by a resurgent School Boy Hours, who nudged in front to win a thriller by half a length.
Elsewhere on day two, Willie Mullins continued his excellent week by banking his second hat-trick in as many days.
The promising Icare Allen landed a debut success in the opener, a three-year-old Maiden Hurdle, and the equally eye-catching Haut En Couleurs scooped the Paddy Power Games Beginners Chase next up.
Mullins then had to wait until the final race of the day to complete his treble but son Patrick delivered the goods aboard Embassy Gardens, edging out Santonito by a nose to win the Paddy Power "I'd Love A Pint But It's 8pm" Flat Race.
There was also success for the Brides Hill Syndicate as the horse which gives the group its name stormed home in the Paddy Power "I've Had More Vaccines Than Nights Out" Handicap Hurdle under Luke Dempsey.