With the dreary weather overshadowing the Market Rasen course during its mid-January meeting, a bright prospect lit up the card on her Listed debut.
A four-year-old filly sat favourite in the betting for the Listed Alan Swinbank Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, with two eye-catching performances under her belt already.
Eileendover had destroyed the field on her first two starts under rules at Huntingdon and Wetherby, winning by 29 lengths and 16 lengths respectively.
This was her toughest assignment yet, lining up alongside Willie Mullins’ improving Grangee. But that didn’t prevent her from bolting clear in the closing stages.
The filly ended up winning by 6 ½ lengths, giving trainer Pam Sly her first top-class success for almost 15 years.
It was, in fact, Eileendover’s grandmother that last recorded a major success for the Thorney trainer, when Speciosa landed the 1000 Guineas back in 2006.
With the four-year-old garnering plenty of praise after her success at Market Rasen, many were tipping the newfound star as the British challenger to Kilcruit and Sir Gerhard in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.
However, Sly felt otherwise. In an interview after the race, she talked about the filly’s chances of heading to the Festival and stated ‘I don’t think it will be Cheltenham. I’m just not a Cheltenham fan, I know it’s a prestige thing and a big festival but we don’t have to go there.’
There was hope that Sly’s arm could have been twisted. Eileendover’s form looked even more impressive when Grangee went on to land the Grade 2 Mares’ bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival in February.
But the trainer has resisted the lure of Prestbury Park and has kept on course for the Grade 2 Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race at Aintree next month.
Sly’s love of flat racing could signal the four-year-old’s future, with the trainer highlighting her hopes of Eileendover taking to stalls and running over a mile and a half.
If this was to be the case, then National Hunt fans will get one more chance to see the exciting filly before she switches allegiances.
Nevertheless, Pam Sly’s Eileendover is a talent to keep an eye on.