50-1 SHOCK AT FAIRYHOUSE
If the betting were to be believed, the 2m5f beginners’ chase at Fairyhouse on Tuesday week last was a straight shootout between Fine Article (evens) and Dallas Cowboy (11-8), with the layers going 8-1 bar the pair.
However, the pre-race script was torn up by 50-1 outsider Festive Day. The Norman Lee-trained eight-year-old had been beaten a total of 165 lengths on his last three outings, finishing last of all in two of them, but he was a rejuvenated character under Andrew Lynch and bounded clear of fellow 50-1 outsider, Boite A Musique, to score by a massive 31 lengths. The best Dallas Cowboy could do was take third, while Fine Article only got as far as the second fence.
On the day that leading owner Barry Connell ended his association with Adrian Heskin, the Kilworth jockey showed other owners and trainers what he could do by guiding Change The Rules to victory in the 2m5f handicap chase for Aengus King.
Dermot McLoughlin’s up-and-coming stable is located only a couple of miles away from Fairyhouse and he was among the winners at his local track, thanks to Uptake who made all the running in the 2m4f handicap hurdle under Conor Maxwell.
Ger Fox enjoyed the finest moment of his career on Easter Monday when he landed the BoyleSports Irish Grand National on Rogue Angel and he made all the running on 12-1 chance Killaro Boy, trained by Adrian Murray, in the 2m4f novice handicap hurdle.
The opening 2m maiden hurdle was left to Be The Hero, trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by Bryan Cooper, after odds-on favourite Seven Nation Army took a crashing fall at the last when the pair were upsides.
Paddy Kennedy has been living in the shadow of his younger brother Jack this season but he made some headlines of his own when steering Candlestick to success in the 2m2f maiden hurdle for Jessica Harrington.
There was drama in the concluding 2m1f mares beginners chase as Dancing Meadows crashed out at the second-last when still in contention and then favourite Missypet unshipped Andrew Lynch at the last, leaving Kara Loca and Jonathan Burke to pick up the pieces at 9-2.
ALTESSE ALL GRIT AND DETERMINATION IN NOBLESSE STAKES
There are few more consistent mares in training than Altesse and her consistency was rewarded in the Listed Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Noblesse Stakes at Leopardstown on Wednesday evening last.
Jim Bolger’s white-faced daughter of Hernando was second in the very same race in 2014, albeit at Cork, but she went one better this time under Kevin Manning and did so by showing a steely determination in the final furlong to gun down Ballybacka Queen.
A half-length was the winning distance at the line and Bolger nominated the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan as her next assignment.
The new flat season has started swimmingly for the team from Ballydoyle. They have already unearthed a new Derby favourite in US Army Ranger and Aidan O’Brien sent out a highly promising pair of three-year-olds to win the two maidens on the card, as well as Ineffable who landed the 1m2f handicap.
Claudio Monteverdi boasts an entry in next month’s Dante Stakes at York, so it was hardly surprising to see him make short work of his rivals in the opening 1m maiden, making all the running under Donnacha O’Brien en route to a wide-margin win.
Donnacha went on to complete a double on Ineffable, but it was Seamie Heffernan who had the pleasure of guiding the exciting Somehow to glory in the 1m2f fillies maiden. She could be destined for Group 1s now with the Investec Oaks a possibility later in the season.
The widest-margin winner of the entire meeting was 25-1 outsider Jeremys Joy who, on her first start for Emmet Butterly, galloped 11 lengths clear of Maknificent in the 1m2f handicap, with Gary Carroll even afforded the luxury of easing down in the closing stages.
Few could begrudge Beechmount Whisper a first success at the 12th time of asking in the concluding 1m handicap, while Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen combined for their customary Leopardstown winner with Va Pensiero in the 7f handicap, as she made it two from two having won a Dundalk maiden in February.
FALLON OFF THE MARK FOR THE SEASON AT LIMERICK
Kieren Fallon’s new Irish adventure got up and running on student raceday at Limerick on Thursday as he bagged his first winner of the campaign thanks to Oiche Mhaith Boy, who bravely fought off all challengers in the Coral.ie Download The App Handicap, eventually scoring by four and a quarter lengths from Pat Harkin.
The 1m handicap which opened the card was the scene for a 16-length win for 15-8 favourite Dragon Khan in the hands of Killian Leonard who was wearing the famous JP McManus silks.
There was also a wide-margin winner of the 7f fillies maiden, as Pat Smullen made every yard of the running on Orangey Red, trained by his boss Dermot Weld, on the way to a nine and a half length victory over the staying-on Evening Hush.
Niven started his season in style for Ken Condon and Shane Foley by storming home down the outside and collaring Charlies Missile in the 7f handicap.
Colonel Maximus also swooped late down the outer to land the 6f maiden for Chris Hayes and Kevin Prendergast. Jealika, trained by Mark Fahey, got the job done in cosy fashion in the 6f handicap in the hands of Conor Hoban and Malinka sent punters home happy by justifying 4-6 favouritism in the 1m3f maiden, handing Weld and Smullen a double on the day.
PEACE ENVOY COULD BE BOUND FOR ROYAL ASCOT AFTER DAZZLING DUNDALK DEBUT
Seamie Heffernan had no hesitation in suggesting that Peace Encoy may well be a Royal Ascot type after the Power colt made an impressive winning debut in the opening 5f maiden at Dundalk on Friday night.
The market told you all you needed to know as Peace Envoy was supported into 8-11 favourite and he lived up to the hype, with a comfortable victory over fellow newcomer King Electric, who was trying to give Ger Lyons a third straight win in the race.
Eddie Lynam brought Lady Mega back from a ten-month absence to win the 5f handicap. Robbie Downey was the man on board and the talented young Kilcock rider went on to complete a double on 8-1 shot Poitin in the feature 1m4f handicap for Keith Clarke.
Having gone 22 starts without a win, The Butche’s Filly finally had her day in the sun in the 1m handicap as she swooped late and fast under Killian Leonard. Those who took the skimpy odds about 4-9 favourite Aared in the 1m maiden were made to sweat as Kevin Prendergast’s gelded son of Shamardal took his time to get by Eddystone Rock, but eventually went on to score by half-a-length.
The long trip from Castlelyons to Dundalk proved more than worthwhile for Rodger Sweeney, as Danequest took the 2m handicap under Kevin Manning. Catchy Lass’ only previous success arrived back in March of 2014, but she ended the drought in the 1m2f handicap under Conor McGovern.
NIVEN AND OICHE MHAITH BOY TASTE GLORY AGAIN AT GOWRAN PARK
There may have been little time to rest, but both Niven and Oiche Mhaith Boy proved that a 48-hour turnaround was no barrier to success, as both followed up victories at Limerick on Thursday by winning again at Gowran Park on Saturday afternoon.
Niven left it late at Limerick, but Shane Foley got the improving three-year-old to the front over a furlong from home on this occasion and the 2-1 shot held on grimly by half-a-length from Burma Star.
Killian Leonard took over from Kieran Fallon on Oiche Mhaith Boy in the 1m4f apprentice handicap and Kieran Purcell’s in-form mudlark, who was sent off 7-4 favourite, once again relished the underfoot conditions, stretching three lengths clear of Prussian Eagle at the line.
We could have seen a future star in the opening 7f juvenile maiden as the Dermot Weld-trained newcomer Discipline barely came out of second-gear in destroying his four rivals by seven and a half lengths under a motionless Pat Smullen.
Weld and Smullen completed a quick double half-an-hour later with The Moore Factor, who proved much too good in the 7f maiden and the hat-trick was completed by Topaz Clear in the 1m4f maiden later on the card.
Radanpour was sent off a red-hot 4-7 favourite to provide Weld and Smullen with a four-timer in the concluding 1m6f contest, but they proved no match for Toe The Line from the John Kiely stable who was nine lengths too good under Colin Keane. Willie McCreery’s Elm Grove ploughed merrily through the mud in the 1m1f handicap under Billy Lee, winning by a massive 14 lengths.
JET SETTING HANDS KEATLEY BIGGEST WIN OF HIS CAREER
The biggest moment of Adrian Keatley’s career arrived at Leopardstown on Sunday as the young Curragh-based trainer sent out Jet Setting to win the Group 3 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes. With race-fitness on her side following a smooth success in a Cork maiden, the former Richard Hannon-trained filly was sent straight to the front by Shane Foley and she never saw another rival en route to a three-length victory over Now Or Never.
The Irish 1,000 Guineas could now be on Jet Setting’s agenda if the ground is soft, while the German Guineas is also on Keatley’s radar.
The Group 3 P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes went the way of Harzand who supplemented his wide-margin win in a Cork maiden with a performance of even more substance. Pat Smullen had to make his challenge widest of all, but he had enough juice in the tank to collar Idaho inside the final furlong and bookmakers reacted by cutting Harzand into 16-1 for the Investec Derby at Epsom.
There was a thrilling climax to the Listed 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes as Black Sea swept from last to first under Ryan Moore, getting up close home to deny both Stenographer and True Solitaire, who dead-heated for second, by a head. Dermot Weld and Smullen went on to register a double courtesy of Alveena, who justified even-money favouritism in the 1m4f handicap. Tribal Path once again proved what a dangerous trailblazer he is by making every yard of the running in the 7f handicap, while the last of seven races went the way of Laganore from the Tony Martin stable, who was ridden to victory by Fran Berry.
RULE THE WORLD WINS FOR MOUSE MORRIS
Just 12 days after sending out Rogue Angel to win the BoyleSports Irish Grand National, Mouse Morris completed a remarkable double when Rule The World pounced late to land the Crabbie’s Grand National under 19-year-old David Mullins.
In a race in which 8-1 joint-favourites The Last Samuri and Many Clouds traded blows for much of the second circuit, Rule The World was ridden quietly behind the leaders and swept by at the Elbow, eventually drawing six lengths clear in conditions that tested stamina severely.
The Last Samuri kept on to take second, ahead of Dermot McLoughlin’s 100-1 shot Vics Canvas, who made a terrible error at Becher’s Brook on the first circuit, with Robbie Dunne doing wonders to keep the partnership intact. Gilgamboa was fourth at 28-1.
Goonyella, the horse that came in for late money as the rain fell on Aintree, was fifth at 12-1 and completed a 1-3-4-5 for Irish-trained horses.
The win was a poignant one for Morris as his son Christopher died last summer while travelling in South America.
MULLINS EDGES CLOSER TO BRITISH TRAINER’S TITLE
Willie Mullins is in pole position to be crowned champion jumps trainer in Britain for the first time after landing six winners at the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival, as title rival Paul Nicholls drew a blank at the three-day festival.
The importance of the Grand National meeting on the title race had a great deal to do with the £1 million prize-money up for grabs in the Crabbie’s Grand National. However, neither trainer was able to make an impact with only Unioniste picking up £1,000 for Nicholls with his tenth-placed finish.
Instead the damage was done by Mullins’s Grade 1 stars Annie Power, Douvan, Yorkhill and Apple’s Jade as he wore down the near £200,000 lead held by Nicholls going into the meeting and powered away to hold a £182,786 advantage by the end of Saturday.
Douvan and Yorkhill collected Grade 1s for Mullins on Saturday and Ivan Grozny, ridden by his nephew David Mullins, who landed the Grand National on Rule The World, also picked up £30,950 when winning the concluding handicap hurdle.
Even the shock fall from 1-5 shot Vautour on Friday was not enough to derail the Mullins juggernaut, and he has vowed to continue targeting races in Britain before the season ends at Sandown on April 23.
YOUNG STUDENTS FLOCK TO TRAMORE
Horse Racing Ireland held a ‘Go Racing Kids’ Club’ Day at Tramore last Tuesday week. The objective of the ‘Go Racing Kids’ Club’ initiative is to build ties between the racecourses and their local community, encouraging an affinity with racing which will hopefully produce future racegoers. The activities educate school children about racing and show them what happens behind-the-scenes at the racecourse.
Ó SÉ TO PRESENT TROPHIES AT GODOLPHIN STUD AND STABLE STAFF AWARDS
RTÉ television presenter and horse racing enthusiast, Dáithí Ó Sé will present the trophies at the 2016 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, at the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare, County Limerick, on Tuesday, April 19.
Dáithí will be joined by MC Jonathan Mullin, Irish Editor of the Racing Post, in front of an audience made up of representatives of all sectors of the Irish racing industry, the finalists in each of the categories and their invited guests. There are ten categories, which carry total prize-money of €70,000 along with specially commissioned trophies for the winners.
Limerick – Thursday, 14th April (first race 2.15). Ballinrobe – Friday, 15th April (first race 4.55). Dundalk – Friday, 15th April (first race 5.35). Cork – Saturday, 16th April (first race 1.55). Navan – Sunday, 17th April (first race 2.00).