WEEK 51: MONDAY, 14 DEC. – SUNDAY, 20 DECEMBER
Another 12 winners to report on from Avondhu area locals based in the UK. David O’Meara, took the honours last week with 4 winners, he was followed closely by Brian Harding with 3 winners, with Martin Lane and Liam Keniry adding two winners apiece. Jonjo O’Neill wrapped up the week with 1 winner, although he did get another race on appeal from Week 49. This takes our 2015 combined winning total onto the 480 winner mark.
O’MEARA BAGS FOUR AS DIPLOMAT RESUMES NORMAL SERVICE
Fermoy native and trainer, David O’Meara, recorded four winners last week, taking his 2015 winning total on to the 124 winner mark. His most notable winner, in prize-money terms, came with the Danny Tudhope ridden Foreign Diplomat (5/1), who scored in the 8 runner Scoop6 Soccer H’cap (C4), over 6f, at Chelmsford on December 17th last.
Coming into this race off the back of a disappointing run, over 7f last time out, at Kempton, this three-year-old gelded son of Oasis Dream was dropped back to 6f, with hood removed. Well drawn to the inside, in berth one, Foreign Diplomat was well away, leading early until reined back by Tudhope, as race favourite Hoofalong, took up the running after half a furlong, setting a good pace in the process. Settling in third to the halfway point, Foreign Diplomat always held prime position, travelling smoothly in Tudhope’s hands. With Hoofalong harried for the lead by Guishan, this race was setting up nicely for a closer and entering the top of the home straight, Tudhope started pressing some buttons, hoping for a positive response.
Coming to challenge between both Hoofalong and Guishan, this Clipper Logistics owned gelding hit the front with half a furlong to go and always looked to hold the edge over the resilient Hoofalong. Ridden out to the line, Foreign Diplomat held sway by an easy looking neck, from the gallant Hoofalong, it was a further half a length back to Money Team, in third. Registering his second win and first in handicap company, Foreign Diplomat was having his fifth start for O’Meara after switching from William Haggas’s yard this autumn. A 160,000gns yearling, he is a well-bred individual being a half-brother to Group 3 winner, Be My Gal, and whether he can win again in better company remains to be seen. Rated 79 here, he could still sneak into Class 4 races if his rating remains at 85 or below and he looks as if he could fill out more as a four-year-old.
Danny Tudhope, winning rider, said, “Foreign Diplomat isn’t easy to win with and I was anxious to keep tabs on Hoofalong. He deserved that as he’s a great workhorse at home.”
O’Meara went on to record another three winners, all of which came on the same day, Tuesday, December 15th. They were Signorina Roseina (14/1), who took the 11 runner Ladbrokes H’cap (C6), over 7f, at Southwell under Sam James. O’Meara and James doubled up at Southwell, with Masterful Act (11/10f), who took the 6 runner Coral Claiming Stakes (C6), over 11f and last but not least the across the card treble was brought up by the Josh Doyle ridden, Jebediah Shine (16/1), who won the 9 runner Betdaq H’cap (C4), over 5f, at Kempton.
THREE STONE IMPROVER ISAACSTOWN STILL ON THE UP
Castletownroche native and jump jockey, Brian Harding, continues as ever to impress in the saddle, adding a further three winners last week, this, taking his seasonal total on to the 28 winner mark. His most noteworthy winner came aboard the Nicky Richards trained Isaacstown Lad (5/2f), who went on to score in the 6 runner Racing UK H’cap (C3), over 23f, at Haydock Park on December 19th last.
Bidding to make it four wins from his last five starts, after falling six days earlier in a four-timer quest at Carlisle, this eight-year-old gelded son of Milan has come a long way since winning his first handicap off a mark of 93, back in May. Held up as per usual, off a steady pace, set firstly by Ugly Bug and secondly by Major Ivan, Isaacstown Lad was sighted travelling contently in either last or second last on the first circuit. With Ugly Bug and Major Ivan intent on taking each other on going out on the final circuit, the field could be seen fanning out across the track, with jockeys looking for better ground in testing conditions.
Steadily put into the race approaching the fourth last, Isaacstown Lad made smooth headway into fourth entering the final turn and found himself gaining two positions into second on straightening up to face the final three hurdles. Not wanting to get there too soon, Harding took a pull and let Oscar Blue pass him up his inside over three-out. With Major Ivan there for the taking, Oscar Blue took aim and passed the long-time leader over two-out, as Harding and Isaacstown Lad mapped a course wide between the final two obstacles.
Ridden to challenge and pick up Oscar Blue approaching the last, Isaacstown Lad had plenty in reserve and staying on well up the run-in, he duly put daylight between himself and Oscar Blue, going on to win readily in the end by some four lengths.
Recording his fourth win from 12 starts, this MS Borders Racing Club owned gelding will now see another penalty added, pushing him up to the 130 bracket, which will be a three stone improvement in ratings. On this evidence he isn’t finished yet with winning and speaking after the race, Nicky Richards said, “Isaacstown Lad loves this ground. I think he’ll go for a Pertemps qualifier somewhere along the way.”
Harding went on to ride another two winners, both for trainer, Nicky Richards, and they were in date order, Western Rules (4/9f), who won the 5 runner 188Bet Novices’ Hurdle (C4), over 19.5f, at Carlisle on December 13th last and finally, the giant mare, Hester Flemen (11/2), who put in a remarkable jumping display on chase debut, when taking the 5 runner Come Racing On New Year’s Day Beginners’ Chase (C3), at Catterick, on December 15th last, one of five winners on the day for Avondhu locals.
MISS UNDERSTOOD BACK TO WINNING WAYS AFTER INJURY
Kilworth native and flat jockey, Martin Lane, added a further two winners in Week 51, this taking his 2015 total on to the 55 winner mark.
His most notable win came aboard the David Simcock trained, Miss Understood (6/1), who took the 8 runner Betfred Fillies’ H’cap (C5), over 10f, at Chelmsford on December 17th last. Making her handicap debut, off an opening mark of 72, this three-year-old Excellent Art filly was also returning from over a year off, after reportedly suffering a stress fracture late last year.
Slow to stride and slightly impeded on leaving the gate, Miss Understood was soon dropped in, up the inside rail, as the early pace was set by the forward going, Spring Dixie. Fifth on passing the winning post with a full circuit to go and with a generous looking pace, Lane bided his time as his mount settled into a good rhythm under him.
With the pace sustained passing the halfway point and the race favourite and hat-trick seeking, Ickymasho, stalking the leader, Miss Understood was seen to get outpaced slightly as Lane niggled away at her. Waiting for the turn-in over two furlongs out, and while all others were losing their heads, Lane sat motionless until entering the top of the home straight, where a huge gap appeared up the inside. Unleashing his mount with a new leader in Ickymasho to aim at, Lane got Miss Understood rolling and responding very generously to pressure.
This Julie Annable owned filly, came alongside Ickymasho well inside the final furlong, slowly edging her head in front as the winning line fast approached, going on to win eventually by a neck. It was a further two and a quarter lengths back to Kalon Brama, in third.
Recording her second win from just four starts, Miss Understood looks a likely type to improve further and can make her mark in better company through the winter.
Lane went on to ride a second winner aboard the Jeremy Gask trained, Jamhoori (7/2), who went on to take the 6 runner Coral Connect Selling Stakes (C6), at Wolverhampton, on December 14th last.
PENNY DROPS FOR DESIRABLE AT BIG ODDS
Killeagh native and flat jockey, Liam Keniry, took his 2015 total on to the 60 winner mark with two more winners in Week 51. His most notable winner came aboard the Hughie Morrison trained, Desirable (33/1), who took the 8 runner English Teacher Training Maiden Stakes (C6), over 6f, at Kempton Park on December 16th last. Making her second racecourse start, after a less than enlightening debut over course and distance two weeks earlier, when last of 9 runners, this two-year-old Stimulation filly stepped up markedly on that performance here.
Drawn 2 on the inside, Desirable was well away and quickly tagged on to race favourite and pacesetter, Don’t Blame Me, who strode out purposely in front. Settling eventually into third place, only a length or so off the leader, Desirable always held prime position, travelling nicely in hand under Keniry. Passing the halfway point and entering the top of the home straight, Desirable was asked to go about her job and still looking somewhat green, she took an age to pick up and come alongside Don’t Blame Me.
With just a furlong left, Desirable finally found what was required to just edge ahead of Don’t Blame Me and Deer Song inside the last 50yds, going on to win in the end by just a neck. Don’t Blame Me held on for second, with Deer Song third, only a short-head behind.
Recording her first win and looking more clued in on the day from debut, this Mrs Isabel Eavis owned and bred filly, should develop more as a three-year-old and should be up to winning in handicap company when set the task.
Liam Keniry, winning rider, said, “On debut Desirable was very green and the penny never dropped. She broke a lot smarter today and showed nice acceleration. She should come on again.”
Keniry went on to ride a second winner aboard the Michael Madgwick trained, Jersey Bull (8/1), who won the 13 runner Learn English At ISE Hove H’cap (C6), over 12f, at Kempton Park on December 15th last.
MONTDRAGON SCALES NEW HEIGHTS
Castletownroche native and trainer, Jonjo O’Neill, added another winner last week, this, taking his seasonal tally on to the 62 winner mark. His winner came with the Joshua Moore ridden, Montdragon (9/2), who went on to take the 7 runner Nationwide Vehicle Contracts H’cap Hurdle (C2), over 19f, at Haydock Park on December 19th last. Returning to the fray after a summer break and off the back of a Warwick novice win when last seen out, in May, this five-year-old gelded son of Turtle Bowl was also making his handicap hurdling debut, off an opening mark of 128.
Settled into about fourth position, off a very steady pace set by Three Faces West, in testing ground conditions, Montdragon looked a bit sloppy over the first few obstacles, especially the fourth, but travelled nicely in hand for Moore up the home straight first time around.
Passing the winning post first-time round and Three Faces West still led although he had a good look at the exit until his jockey, Tom O’Brien, woke him up to the job at hand. This had a marked effect on the pace as the gallop steadily lifted down the far side over the fifth, sixth and seventh flights of hurdles, where Montdragon looked short of room and lost his position entering the turn into the home straight.
Suddenly ridden to regain balance and momentum, Montdragon was soon back on an even keel facing up to three out and if anything, looked to be travelling best. Picking up the leaders over two out with a good jump, Moore now set his sights on Three Faces West, who seemed reluctant to let anyone by. Joining the long-time leader at the last, Montdragon landed running and ridden out strongly up the run-in, he responded in bucket loads, going on to win by some two and a quarter lengths at the line, from the staying on Baby Bach, back in second.
Recording his second win, on this, his seventh start, this former French trained JP McManus owned gelding, looks quite a useful prospect and looking at his frame he will no doubt make a fine chaser once fully furnished.
Joshua Moore, winning rider, said, “Montdragon got a bit unbalanced around the home bend but got going nicely again after that. He should be an improver, hopefully.”
In other news O’Neill’s, Quarenta, who apparently finished second, when coming out the wrong side of a tight photo-finish, at Lingfield, on December 12th, was awarded the race after it became clear that the judge had called the wrong horse the winner. From an impossible image and a huge social media response to the incident, the BHA looked again at the race and the grainy photo-finish print and rightly amended the result in Quarenta’s favour.
Wishing all readers a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year, may your Christmas stockings be lined with winners.
UK flat/jumps 2015 = 476, Ireland = 1, France = 2, Canada = 1.