The hot streak continues for Doneraile jockey Darragh O’Keeffe as he added to his recent trio of Galway festival winners.
He partnered the Ken Budds (Tallow) trained Here For The Craic to land the 2m handicap hurdle at Cork on bank holiday Monday, getting the 12-year-old home by three parts of a length from the Charles Byrnes-trained 9/4 favourite Give Battle in the colours of the Connery Family Syndicate.
The veteran performer isn’t the most straightforward, refusing to race on more than one occasion when tried on the flat, but the switch to hurdles worked the charm and Reinduff trainer Budds is confident that there is more to come.
“We’re rolling back the years today. He always had ability but didn’t jump out of stalls the last few times. He’s absolutely flying this year, he’s never moved as well and everything is right with him”.
The winner was returned at odds of 25/1 and was O’Keeffe’s 22nd winner of the season.
O’Keeffe then landed a further two winners at Sligo last Thursday where he was successful on horses trained by Tom McCourt and Victor Wilson.
Dollar Value, a 10/1 chance, landed the 2m4f maiden hurdle for McCourt, while Mon Storm, a 7/2 chance, won the handicap hurdle over the same distance for owner/trainer Wilson from County Down.
Another double then came the way of O’Keeffe at Kilbeggan on Saturday night where he rode a winner for Thurles trainer John Nicholson and Michael Hourigan.
He won the 2m4f maiden hurdle on 8/1 chance Pat Coyne and followed up in the Kieran Kelly Memorial Beginners Chase, where the well-backed 100/30 chance Humm Baby came from off the pace to beat Make My Heart Fly in convincing fashion for the veteran Limerick trainer.
Donie McInerney secured his first success as a fully-fledged professional at Sligo on Thursday when partnering Construct to an easy victory for John McConnell.
Setting off to make all the running, McInerney never saw another rival aboard the 3/1 chance which is now two from two over hurdles as he recorded a three-length success in the rated novice hurdle.
The Charles Byrnes-trained Give Battle took the 2m1f handicap hurdle under Kevin Brouder.
A second winner of the week for the pair, the 11/8 favourite hit the front after the final flight and beat outsider Jazz Ranger by a length and three quarters.
Billy Lee was back in the winners’ enclosure at the Curragh on Friday night where the remarkable run of form being enjoyed Mathew Smith continued.
The pair scored with Master Matt in the 5f handicap just 24 hours after the three-year-old ran at Leopardstown. The 7/1 co-favourite won by a length and a quarter from the Jack Davison-trained Miacomet.
A little further afield, Romanised gave trainer Ken Condon another magical Group 1 moment as last season’s Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas winner struck again at the highest level in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in France on Sunday.
Billy Lee gave the four-year-old a cracking ride, sitting behind the pace before kicking clear in the final stages. Romanised and Lee were always in control in the closing stages and eased to a one and a quarter length win over Shaman. He was returned at odds of 7/2.
Leopardstown – Thursday, August 15 (first race 4.50); Tramore – Thursday, August 15 (first race 5.15); Curragh – Friday, August 16 (first race 4.40); Tramore – Friday, August 16 (first race 5.00); Cork – Saturday, August 17 (first race 1.25); Tramore – Saturday, August 17 (first race 5.10); Tramore – Sunday, August 18 (first race 2.10).