Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Horses for Courses

Racing starts this evening (Thursday) at Tipperary with a national hunt card featuring first away at 5.40 pm. There are two meetings tomorrow (Friday) with a flat card at Wexford starting at 5.55 pm together with racing over the sticks at Downpatrick at 5.45 pm. 

  Saturday sees the first day of racing at the Curragh on Abu Dhabi Guineas Weekend with the 2000 Guineas for colts. Racing starts at 2.10 pm and on Sunday the 1000 Guineas for fillies takes place. Racing starts at 1.40 pm. Then on Monday racing returns to the west at the Cleveragh in Sligo where there is an all jumps card over hurdles culminating with a bumper over 2 miles. 

  There are 11 declared for the feature on Saturday with Ballydoyle supplying half the field with High Ruler, Master Of The Hounds, Oracle, Roderic O’Connor and Zoffany all involved. The home team also includes Kevin Prendergast’s Dunboyne Express, John Joseph Murphy’s Foolproof and the John Oxx trained Zabarajad along with three English raiders led by the favourite Richard Hannon’s Dubwai Gold, 2nd in Newmarket to Frankel, Ashva trained by Michael Dods and Slim Shadey from JS Moore’s yard. Zoffany is already a confirmed non-runner due to a bout of colic. Kevin Prendergast hopes to upset the favourite, Dubwai Gold.

  On Sunday there are 16 declared for the fillies race in which Ballydoyle again have 5. Kevin Prendergast has 3, John Oxx and Jim Bolger 2 each, Pat Fahey, David Wachman and Jessica Harrington completing the home team with Mick Channon providing the sole English raider.    

  Second to Blue Bunting in Newmarket Aidan O’Brien’s Together is one of 6 fillies he has left in the 1000 Guineas and looks the business. She is opposed by Dermot Weld’s Misty For me, a winner in Ireland and France, Jim Bolger’s Banimpire winner of the Ballysax, against colts, and Blue Wind Stakes. John Oxx has two in the race with Emiyna and History Note both with chances while Kevin Prendergast has left in Handassa, Rose Bonheur and Seeharn. Mick Channon’s Majestic Dubawi is the sole cross-channel challenger. Hard to oppose Together if she runs even though the favourite is Emiyna.

  Also on the card is the Group 1 The Tattersalls Gold Cup over 1m 2f for older horses and this time O’Brien provides 6 of the 10 declared and the best of them looks to be the 5 times Group 1 winner in Australia So You Think with Dermot Weld’s Famous Name the one to give him most to do. 

  A horse with local connections and trained by Patrick Prendergast, Simla Sunset, who has had a run at Leopardstown a forthnight ago could run well in the 1m handicap, but only if the ground stays good to firm. 

  There will be more than racing on display at headquarters on a weekend that will have an Arabic flavour with many elements of Emirati life and culture being showcased in an Arabian Village, which will feature a variety of activities to promote the attractions of Abu Dhabi and Etihad Airways will feature a display to highlight their involvement with their Formula One motor racing. 

  At Kilbeggan last Saturday evening the punters got off to a great start with the first four favourites, Prior’s Gold, Raggletagglegypsy, Lord and Datokepe all obliged very easily. Then the Michael O’Leary owned Sorted under Davy Russell won at odds of 7/1 giving some relief to the layers. However relief was short-lived as, on his home track, Michael O’Leary won the next with Guts For Garters having been backed into favourite at 100/30 from twice the odds. The bumper was won by the 10/1 shot Peak Oil trained by Tom Hogan, whose yard is coming into form, with Corky Carroll in the plate.

  David Kelly’s Ballygar yard continued its good run even though they had no winner but Brown Polish finished 2nd to Datokepe and Doransfirth 5th to Lord Ben. 

General news   

Delighted to report that Rodi Greene from Roscrea, who was sidelined with a spinal injury suffered after a serious fall at Lingfield in March, has been released from hospital last Friday. Greene says that a full recuperation will take some time yet, but his long-term prognosis is good. Also, 22 year old Peter Toole, who suffered head injuries at Aintree has made good progress at the Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and is now able to talk but he has a long and hard journey back to full health. All we can do is wish both as speedy a recovery as possible. 

  Also good to see the return of Ken Whelan after a short sojourn to Australia and the popular jump jockey returned to race-riding at Killarney on Sunday. Ken came home for his son Ross’ communion and just could not return. Ken, the joker of the pack in the weighroom, will bring plenty of light-hearted moments to his colleagues. Welcome back.

Point to Point Action

On Friday evening in lovely sunshine Jamie Codd opened his account for the weekend with winning the first 2 races on Charlie’s Vic and Court In Session while Derek O’Connor drew a blank. On Saturday Codd won the first on Cross Of Honour to draw level with the champion in this year’s race on 94 winners and ensure the northern title as his own. The champion was not giving up his title easily and won the 3rd race on Jason Titley’s Tivnacree to regain the lead. A winner at Roscommon point to point in November Top Twig provided O’Connor with No 2 in the open and end his season in the fields as he has now won 6, joining Lord Multifix as only the second horse to do so this season. The last three races were divided between the two main challengers for the title with Codd winning the penultimate race on Ballybroker Boy dividing an O’Connor double on Ballinaha Swan and Billytheship, the latter getting the race in the stewards room having finished 2nd. Onto to Sligo on Sunday where Jamie Codd was present and complete a double on Aces Or Better in the open and Cornerhousesam in the last, having fallen on three other mounts, finishing the weekend on 95. O’Connor was in Bartlemy where he had a 4 timer aboard Rose Of Dunamase, Justthethreeofus, his 100th winner for the third season in a row, Annacarton and the appropriately named Supreme Doc, which he appears to be. With only 3 weekends and meetings left he now leads by 5 on 102 winners.  

  In the ladies championship on Saturday Liz Lalor won her 12 race on Fence Me In at Athalacca and Charlie Fennessey, leader in the novice riders also with 12, had a blank weekend. 

  With the northern circuit complete there is no meeting on Saturday and Sunday sees 2 meetings down for decision at Dromahane in Cork and grounds of Stradbally Hall in Laois, both with a 2.00 pm start.

  Stratford stages both of its two major hunter chases on Friday evening, May 27 for the first time. The Champion Novices’ Chase, sponsored this year by the sport’s website and the Foxhunters Champion Chase, backed by local company W+S Recycling, were ran on successive days.