Harty dreaming of Gold Cup glory
Coney Island sparked long-term dreams of the Gold Cup as he dented a few lofty reputations in breaking his duck over fences in the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.
He travelled with supreme ease and jumped with aplomb, despite not being the first choice of owner JP McManus' retained rider Barry Geraghty, who was on the second, Anibale Fly.
Mouse Morris' Alpha Des Obeaux tried to make all and jumped with speed at the head of affairs and was asking them all a question stretch turning into the straight.
All bar Coney Island (8/1), that is, who was still hard on the bridle for Mark Walsh. He absolutely pinged the last and there appeared no excuses for any of the beaten horses as he won by two and a quarter lengths.
Coney Island was providing trainer Eddie Harty with his first Grade One win since Captain Cee Bee in the Ryanair Novice Chase of 2010.
Walsh said: "He was electric and never missed a beat. I just didn't want to get to the front to soon, but I kicked on approaching the last and he pinged it.
"It's no surprise, he was second in a Grade One last year and he's just about to turn six – he's exciting."
Harty said: "He was unlucky not a win a Grade One at Punchestown, but it's a while since we've had one.
"We knew we had a Grade One horse then, so you've got to treat them right when you get them.
"He ran a lovely race at Punchestown first time up and the one thing Mark did say was that he needs more pace, so we had him in this race and it was a case of this or a beginners', but thse are nearly graded races anyway.
"We took a shot and it paid off. He has plenty of pace, gears and jumps great, a lot to look forward to.
"He's in the three-mile Grade One novice at Christmas, we'll see how he is.
"You'd like to think he's a Gold Cup horse, but you hate to say those things, you need a lot to go right."
Harty added: "If he comes out of it well we'll look at Christmas, which is only three weeks. Either that or leave him off to the good novice in Leopardstown (Dr P.J Moriarty).
"It was obvious that Barry would ride Anibale Fly today as he'd won. I can't blame Barry for that, even though he loves this horse and he was one of his horses to look forward to for the year."