Tin Soldier battles to Michael Purcell success at Thurles

Thu 23 Feb 2017

Tin Solider benefited from a never-say-die ride from Ruby Walsh to land the At The Races Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle at Thurles.

A winner over an extended three miles on his Irish debut at Fairyhouse last month, the Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old was third-best in the betting for this two-and-a-half-mile Grade Three at 100-30.

Walsh unsurprisingly rode a positive race over the shorter trip, but looked booked for minor honours at best as Tin Solider came under pressure long before the home turn.

However, to his credit, the French import responded to his rider's urgings and after getting himself back into contention in the straight, he jumped the last well and galloped on to score by a length.

Moulin A Vent, the 15-8 favourite, filled the runner-up spot, with Champagne Classic seven lengths further back in third.

Mullins said: " He is making good progress and while he made heavy weather of it, once Ruby made up his mind for him he made nice progress.

" I don't think any horse is happy on that ground today - it's tough to race on. He's a horse who never shows me much at home but he obviously has a lot more in the locker than he lets on to have. But I like horses who improve unexpectedly and he's one of those.

"He wants a trip and two and a half is as short as he wants - he seems to go on that ground but maybe he wants it better."

Tin Soldier holds multiple engagements at the Cheltenham Festival, but is unlikely to make the trip to Prestbury Park.

" I'll probably keep him at home and look for a staying novice," Mullins added.

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