Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Week of horses and craic at Ballybrit

Horses for Courses

Tom Red

On Monday evening next, a week of horses and craic at Ballybrit gets underway. 

The racing starts on Monday at 5.10 pm and features the QR Handicap (formerly the GPT Amateur Handicap) along with the Handicap run over 7f. Willie Mullins and Jessica Harrington dominate the entries for the feature race on the opening night of the seven-day Galway festival.

Galway’s Ballybrit Festival starts next Monday evening at 5.10 and features the QR Handicap over 2m (formerly the GPT Amateur Handicap) along with the Handicap run over 7f. Willie Mullins and Jessica Harrington dominate the 32 entries for the amateur race. The Mullins team includes Deutschland, who also holds an entry in both the William Hill Galway Plate and Arthur Guinness Galway Hurdle later in the week, along with Dani California, Diego Garcia, Lazio, Man On The Nile and Mountain Snow, who could also appear later in the week.

Harrington has five entered including Ebor entry Speed Ticket along with Farenelli, Dreamy Gent, Zarinava and The Last Hurrah. Other notable entries include Tony Martin’s Equator, Truckers Delight, well-backed in the Galway Hurdle ante-post market, and the Dermot Weld-trained pair Universal Truth and Ghimaar. 

The progressive Rajik and Zaralabad represent Charlie Swan while the consistent Taralga, trained by Sean Treacy, is another interesting entry who has won his last two races at Tipperary and The Curragh. This is definitely one for the old fashioned pin.

Recent Fairyhouse winner bred and owned in the county town by Christy Tully, his brother Frank and Mark Doolan and trained across the border in Athlone by Tom Cleary, Miss Al Gunn, is entered in the 8.10 pm and if she gets in she will be up against it with all the top trainers holding entries, O’Brien, Weld, Oxx, Bolger and Wachman. But having won on her first run in a handicap over 1m 2f in Fairyhouse, she will have an each way chance if she gets a run. The three-year-old filly was bred by Christy Tully at the Ardkeel Stud in Lisnamult.

Two to note in the bumper if they get a run are Paul Gilligan’s Daneva, second at Kilbeggan and Paul Flynn’s Budweiser, second at Worcester, but as normal the one to beat will be the Willie Mullins-trained Bouy George, second at Roscommon to Clicksnmortar in June. Have to go for Paul Gilligan’s horse, looked very impressive in Kilbeggan, for value.

Again on Tuesday first race is off at 5.10 pm and features the Tote Galway Mile E.B.F. Handicap. Tom Cleary’s Athlone-trained Miranda’s Girl hopes to get into this race following her Roscommon win and if she does Roscommon winners have a good batting rate in Galway, maybe it’s the uphill finishes.

Wednesday sees the feature of the week for most race goers in the Galway Plate. Racing starts at 2 pm and the feature is at 4.25 pm. Last year’s winning trainer, with Oslot, Paul Nicholls, has two horses entered, Roby de Cimbre and Hoo La Baloo, the top weight, is likely to run. But after his performance in Kilbeggan last week, Piano Star cannot be deserted and hopefully he will fight it out with local hope Oodachee, last year’s runner-up. 

Thursday sees the other main feature of the week, the Galway Hurdle and again racing starts at 2 pm with the feature off at 5 pm. Third in 2007 and runner-up in 2008, hopefully Thomond O’Mara’s Eagle’s Pass will finally deliver. Amazing King won on the flat at last week at Yarmouth and trainer Philip Kirby intends to bring him to Ballybrit and will also be in the reckoning. The ante-post favourite is the Paul Nicholls-trained Classic Swain, formerly trained in France by Andre Fabre. The race will be dealt with in detail next week. Hoo La Baloo is bound straight for Ballybrit having skipped Saturday’s Summer Plate due to the softening ground. 

For those of you getting ready for Galway remember Ladies Day is on Thursday Hurdle Day and there is a prize fund of over €13,500 with a Lancome goody bag for all the finalists. There is also a daily race card competition with the prizes being sponsored by seven of the top hotels in and around Galway. And finally the Tote will have a draw in the parade ring every day after the fifth race and to enter put you name and phone number on the back of all losing tote tickets to win some wonderful prizes.

The leading Jockey Awards will again be sponsored by Rooney Auctioneers of Galway and the leading Trainer Award will be sponsored by Channelle Veterinary Products of Loughrea. Next week we will look in detail at the racing for the first half of the week.

Willie Mullins has Deutschland entered and left in both the Plate and the Hurdle and will be a threat in whichever race he runs. The going at Galway was described as soft yesterday and there is more rain on the way but the weekend is promised dry.

King George

Saturday sees probably the best all-age race run in England in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and there is a field of 11 left after Monday’s confirmation. Heading the field is Michael Stoute’s Conduit and also his stablemates, the unbeaten Ask and Tartan Bearer. Ballydoyle has four runners, over a third of the field, Frozen Fire, Freemantle, Golden Sword and Rockhampton. Luca Cumani’s Cima de Triomphe depending on the ground, Richard Hannon’s Scintillo, Ralph Beckett’s Look Here and John Gosden’s Alwaary complete the field. Conduit is favourite and should win from Tartan Bearer and Look Here.

Carheenlea justifies

On Saturday at Kilbeggan Turloughmore-trained Yvonne Dunleavy’s Carheenlea was made favourite for the Tom McCormack Memorial Maiden Hurdle and justified his position winning by 2½l and 1l from Baily Storm and Warhead under a well-judged ride from John Cullen. The winner will probably turn out in a novice event at Yvonne’s local track, Ballybrit, next week

 In the Gigginstown Midland we told you last week that the 2008 winner Piano Star rarely runs a bad race on this track. He did not let us down and carrying 2 lb less than last year duly won, beating Cool Running by 12l, with Justpourit a length back in third. Michael Cunningham’s gelding, returned at generous odds of 16/1, was ridden to victory by Sean Flanagan and as a result of a 9lb penalty from handicapper Noel O’Brien now gets into the Plate next week as a result of this win. One to watch! In the race, jockey Davy Condon broke an ankle in a fall off Jawad and will be out for at least six weeks, missing Galway. Jockey Timmy Murphy is also out for at least three weeks after dislocating a shoulder in a fall at Newton Abbot on Sunday and will also miss Galway. 

Local success

On the local scene last week, on Thursday evening in a 2m 1f flat handicap at Killarney, Oodachee, owned by the Modreeny Syndicate, based in Oran, trained by Charlie Swan in Cloughjordan and ridden by Emmet Mullins was in the van for most of the race and finished second to the Seamus Fahy-trained Cybersnow with Ger Cully’s Baltimore Patriot in third. Looks a nice run in preparation for the Galway Plate next Wednesday, a race in which he finished second last year beaten 4l by Oslot.

Ansar retires

This week Dermot Weld has announced the retirement of his great Galway servant Ansar at the age of 13. He ran at Ballybrit on 12 occasions winning no less than seven of them and was placed in three of the other five. He won the Galway Plate in 2004 and 2005 and in 2001 he won a handicap hurdle on Monday and went on to win on Thursday. His last race was finishing third in the 2008 Plate to Oslot and Oodachee. Weld said, “I’ve never trained a horse that could handle Galway better than him and he just adored going round the inside. He would literally take the paint off the rails.”

Cheltenham and Punchestown bumper winner Dunguib has tested positive for a banned substance after the horses’ win at the Paddy Power Champion Bumper at Punchestown.  The results of a ‘B’ sample are still being awaited but if the results match, Philip Fenton’s stable star will lose the Punchestown race.

Demise of Party Politics

Sad to report that the 1992 Grand National winner Party Politics, the biggest horse ever to win the race, has been put down at the age of 25 due to the infirmities of old age. Party Politics was ridden by Carl Llewellyn and trained in Lambourn by Nick Gaselee. He finished second in the 1995 running of the great race. 

Competition news

Winners of last week’s competition for tickets for the Gigginstown National at Kilbeggan were Seamus O’Donnell, Castlerea, Geraldine Fahy, Castlerea and John O’Brien, Ballinasloe.

This week we have a competition for three pairs of tickets for Roscommon Races on Tuesday 4th August and to win we want to know what is the name of the racecourse in Roscommon? Answers on a postcard to Roscommon People, Harrison Centre, Main Street, Roscommon by Friday 30th or by email to by Monday 3rd August and don’t forget to include a contact phone number and the winners can pick up their tickets at the office.

We also have a competition for three pairs of tickets for Kilbeggan on Saturday 8th of August and to win we want to know which horse won this year’s Gigginstown Midland National at Kilbeggan repeating his 2008 win? Answers on a postcard to Roscommon People, Harrison Centre, Main Street, Roscommon or by email to by Thursday 6th August and don’t forget to include a contact phone number and the winners can pick up their tickets at the office on the 7th August.