Tower Bridge lost his hurdles maiden tag in some style, giving JJ Slevin a first career Grade One success in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle as the Dublin Racing Festival got underway at Leopardstown.
Seven horses lined up for this 2 ¾ mile contest.
As the race – and much-publicised meeting, got underway, it was Fabulous Saga who went into the lead from stable mate Carter McKay and Dicey O’Reilly, with Moyross to the inside.
Fabulous Saga continued to make the running and opened up a four length advantage from Dicey O’Reilly who moved a clear second, ahead of Moyross and Dortmund Park, as the seven turned into the home straight on the first circuit.
With a circuit to race, Fabulous Saga was clear of his six rivals.
Fabulous Saga and Paul Townend raced into the back straight with an 8 length lead over Dicey O’Reilly, who was three lengths clear of Moyross and Dortmund Park.
The leader went further clear as he jumped the fourth last, where Dortmund Park joined Dicey O’Reilly.
Heading out of the back, Fabulous Saga still travelled well at the head of the field, but with a reduced lead of maybe six lengths, with Dicey O’Reilly reasserting in second, but with a bunched field behind him.
Fabulous Saga turned for home and all of a sudden came under pressure and was quickly swamped.
Jetz burst through on the inside to take the last in front, with Carter McKay challenging, while Tower Bridge swept through from the back under JJ Slevin.
In a thrilling – and surprising finish, Tower Bridge, racing in the JP McManus silks, came to join Jetz and just edged into the lead on the line, with Carter McKay third.
So the opening race of this Dublin Racing Festival went to Joseph O’Brien.
It was a first Grade 1 success for 25-year-old Slevin who was understandably delighted with the victory. “It’s great to get the chance to ride those horses, it’s unbelievable really. Joseph clearly knows what he’s doing and it was a big call to run a maiden in a race like that. His form over hurdles was solid.”
Trainer of the runner up, Jetz, Jessica Harrington, was delighted with her horse’s run and has festivals at Fairyhouse and Punchestown in mind. “I’m absolutely thrilled, he was keen enough early on but when he was headed he battled back. The better going suited him and he’ll be going to Fairyhouse and Punchestown. He’s a chaser for next year.”
The sponsors, Nathaniel Lacy and Partners Solicitors, have put forward a bonus of €50,000 for the stablestaff of the winning yard – should that horse go on to win at Cheltenham.