led early, jumped left at 1st, slight mistake and joined next, led again 7th, joined 10th, ridden and led after 2 out, strongly pressed at last, kept on well inside final furlong, headed on line
The lightly-raced Alto Esqua looked one to follow when making a winning start over fences at Listowel and can't have been right when beaten a long way in a Roscommon Grade 3 a few days later. He's expected to do much better here. Close Shave battled on to lead on the line over 2m6f at Thurles and started favourite for a tough Punchestown handicap but never really got going. This should be more to his liking while Ballela Boy got his jumping together in the latter stages at Limerick after a few early mistakes and would be a threat with a clear round. ART OF SYNERGY has always looked a chaser in the making and what he achieved over timber was a bonus. He has a long absence to overcome but should be ready and can take this as the veteran Inis Meain has had 12 starts over fences without winning.
Alto Esqua (FR) 9-4 (11-1) Prominent, pushed along from 4 out, lost place and no impression from 3 out, eased from next, left 4th from last, 4th of 6, 37l behind Landofhopeandglory (10-5) at Roscommon 2m (1) hvy in Sep.
Close Shave 7-2jfav (10-7) Prominent, mistake 4 out, no extra and one pace straight, 3rd of 11, 21 1/4l behind Coeur Joyeux (10-2) at Punchestown 2m 7f hcp Soft - Heavy in Nov.
Art Of Synergy (IRE) 3-1jfav (11-4) Tracked leaders, 6th halfway, progress after 2 out, switched left and challenged last, soon ridden to lead, kept on well, won at Kilbeggan 2m 3f mdn Yielding in May beating Great Khan (11-4) by 1 1/4l, 16 ran.
Ballela Boy (IRE) 8-1 (11-3) Slow jump 1st and reminders early, settled in 5th, not fluent 4th, progress into 2nd from 4 out, ridden in 3rd from 2 out, kept on well run-in without matching winner, 2nd of 6, 1/2l behind Surf Instructor (11-3) at Limerick 2m 2f hvy in Dec.
Inis Meain (USA) 33-1 (11-4) Slow into stride and in rear early, improved to lead after 1st, headed before 6th and soon dropped to rear, detached when mistake 6 out, soon no extra. tailed off, 4th of 6, dist behind Dounikos (11-4) at Limerick 2m 4f (1) hvy in Dec.