Westerner’s Bumper Winner Books Trip To Cheltenham
Western Diego (6g Westerner - Ask Me Sister, by Safety Catch) emerged as another Cheltenham hopeful for Willie Mullins when making a smart rules debut in Sunday’s bumper at Naas.
The son of Westerner ran out a commanding winner of a five-year-old maiden on his sole start for Mark Scallan last January and subsequently sold to Gerry Hogan for £125,000. Now carrying the silver silks of Steve Parkin’s Clipper Logistics, the bay was sent off favourite for the two mile and three furlong bumper and was ridden to make all by Patrick Mullins. Travelling strongly throughout, he faced a strong challenge three furlongs out, but soon quickened clear and was eased down to score by six and a half lengths.
Speaking after the race, the in-form Willie Mullins said, “He did it well, making all his own running which is a hard thing to do around here. That books his ticket to go across the water if Steve Parkin wants to go, which I'm sure he will. He looks like a nice staying novice for next year.”
Trained by Derek O’Connor for Carol O’Connor, he strode 30 lengths clear to provide Evan Nugent with his first success in the saddle. Bred by Tom Treacy, he provides an important update for his half-brother by Vadamos, who sells at the upcoming Goffs February Sale.
The previous day at Uttoxeter, Benassi (6g Westerner - Kylebeg Krystle, by Oscar) built on a promising rules debut to justify favouritism in the maiden hurdle.
Twice placed between the flags for Denis Murphy, Benassi finished third to more experienced hurdlers on his first start for Olly Murphy last month. Reunited with Fergus Gregory on Saturday, he made all of the running and was shaken up approaching the second last. Ridden clear on the run-in, he led by four and a half lengths on the line.
Bred by Patrick Molloy, he is a half-brother to four-time chase winner Write It Down (Getaway).