By TOM RED
This weekend’s action
This weekend’s racing starts today on the level at Gowran Park in Kilkenny with the first away at 4.35 pm. Tomorrow racing returns to the all weather track at Dundalk with stalls for the first opening at 6.15 pm. Saturday sees the start of a two day national hunt meeting in the south east at Tramore starting at 1.50 pm and at 2.35 pm on Sunday.
Cross channel the Grand National meeting starts today with the Liverpool Hurdle, the Grade 1 Aintree Bowl Chase, and The Foxhunters Chase for amateur riders. Racing continues on Friday with the Grade 1 Melling Chase and finally on Saturday ends with the most famous race in the world the Aintree Grand National backed up by the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle.
Grand National Meeting
Today on the opening day of the Aintree Festival, Big Buck’s runs in the Liverpool Hurdle looking for his 17th consecutive win. Owner Andy Stewart is confident that his star, trained by Paul Nicholls, can maintain his winning ways under Ruby Walsh. Winner of the last four World Hurdle’s at Prestbury Park, Big Buck’s is likely to start long odds on to repeat the feat in the Aintree race.
In the Grade 1 Bowl Barry Geraghty stays with Ryanair winner Riverside Theatre and AP McCoy takes the mount on one of Nicky Henderson’s other horses Burton Port who has sidestepped the Grand National. Master of the Hall completes Henderson’s hand and will be ridden by Andrew Tinkler, They take on eight others including last year’s winner Naracat and Cheltenham winner Anthony Knott’s much improved Hunt Ball. Hunt Ball to continue on the upward curve.
On Friday in the Melling Chase a good each way value looks to be Ruby Wash’s mount Poquelin who missed out at Cheltenham and comes here fresh to take on a number of Cheltenham runners.
Katie Walsh now definitely rides The Gunners Syndicate’s Seabass at Aintree with brother Ruby opting to ride Thyestes Chase winner On His Own for Willie Mullins’ in the Grand National on Saturday. Ruby had the option to ride On His Own, Paul Nicolls’ Neptune Collonges or Seabass trained by father Ted. Here’s hoping that the local horse carries the first lady to victory in the world’s best known race. Our other crack lady jockey Nina Carberry, Katie’s sister-in-law, will be hoping to complete a Grand National double on Arthur Moore’s, her uncle, Organisedconfusion, the pair having won the 2011 Irish race.
Three Irish horses that should run well are Seabass, Treacle and outsider Vic Venturi if you are feeling nationalistic. My choice is Seabass to give Katie the honour of being the first lady to ride an Aintree Grand National winner.
All prayers have been answered and the official going on the Grand National course is good to soft, soft in places on Tuesday with more rain forecast over the next few days. Andrew Tulloch, Clerk of the Course said following the rain on Monday and Tuesday that the courses are in perfect condition.
Review of the Week
Mount Welcome, owned by the Ros-Off Syndicate won on Thursday in Clonmel. Declan Bates brought the horse with a late run to win a thetote.com Handicap Hurdle from Carlowsantana and Cerca Trova. Philip Rothwell trains the gelding for the syndicate made up of brothers Seamus and PJ Carty from Moore, cousins Tony and Martin Murray from Ballydangan and Declan Rohan Offaly. The syndicate has enjoyed success before with the likes of Beneficial Spirit who won 4 races and Rosoff who won 2 races before being sold to England. Beneficial Spirit also finished 2nd in the Connaught National in Lenabane last June.
Peter Casey’s Flemenstar was the star of the show at Fairyhouse on opening day of the easter Festival winning the Power Gold Cup, his second Grade 1 chase, with ease. The 7–Y-0 toyed with the opposition to win his 5th race on the trot coming home by 11l and 5l from Rathlin and False Economy. The horse now goes out to grass for a well earned summer holiday until next season when all going well he should be a live Irish Gold Cup hope.
Earlier Shadow Eile gave Mullingar based Dot Love and assistant Ciaran Murphy their biggest winner to date when winning the Grade 2 Mares Novice Hurdle by a neck and 3 ½ l from Burn and Turn and Dressedtothenines. Andrew McNamara gave the 7–Y-0 mare a brilliant ride coming with a late run from the last flight.
Colm Murphy’s Glam Gerry pulled up in the Irish Grand National on Monday, which was won by the 33/1 outsider for local trainer Tom Gibney who was favoured by the change of ground following the heavy rain on Sunday night. The winner was completing a double having beaten Four Commanders at Navan recently over 3m 5f. He won by 4½l and 7½l from Out Now and English raider Alfie Sheerin.
In the Racing Post Bumper Michael O’Leary seemed to have saved his €150,000 offer to buy the winner when his own Rogue Angel beat Ballinaslow by a short head with Mr Watson 1¾l away in third. However the stewards found that the winner had lived up to his name and he was disqualified and placed 2nd with the race going to Ballinaslow trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by his son Patrick. Michael O’Leary still held his €150,000 as the winning connections turned down the offer.
The Maurice Phealan Athy trained 6yo Alhella won a bumper at Lenebane last June and followed up winning a maiden hurdle at Ballinrobe in August had his first run on the flat at Dundalk last Thursday and duly won a mile and a half maiden under Kevin Manning. The son of Kalanisi was bred by the Aga Khan. The horse will now be aimed at a two mile race on the flat before returning to hurdles. The trainer has Portrait King entered in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr later this month for which he is joint 2nd favourite at 10/1 but be wary as the Rockfield winner in 2009 needs a good cut in the ground.
Point to Point Action
On Sunday there are 3 meetings, at Kilmallock in Waterford first off at 1.30, at Dromahane in Co Cork at 2.00 pm and at Stradbally in Co Laois also starting at 2.00 pm.
At Borris in Co Carlow on Sunday Jamie Codd showed he is back in full flow riding a treble aboard Nearly A Dream, Isthereadifference and Saint Breiz with Barry O’Neill eating into Derek O’Connor’s lead with a double on Hanratty and Luck of the Irish. Katie Walsh won for the 5th time this season on Battlefront extending her lead in the ladies championship. At the two day meeting at Loughanmore, Liz Lalor kept pace with Katie bringing home Clonbeale Vacation for her father and over the 2 days Jamie Codd had a treble winning aboard Rosa Lord on Monday and on Tyger Print and Fort View Wings on Tuesday.
O’Connor’s nearest challenger, Barry O’Neill reduced the lead to 12. In the race for the ladies title both Katie Walsh and Liz Lalor managed to ride one winner each and Katie is now on 10 winners, maintaining her lead of 4 in the ladies championship.
On the injury front Derek O’Connor is making good progress and while he had hoped, as only he would, to be back on Sunday it may be a little while longer.
Issue dated: 13 April 2012
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