This weekends action:
This weekend racing on this island starts in Cork today at Mallow starting at 3.15 pm. Tomorrow, Friday, there is a flat card on the all weather surface at Dundalk, first away at 6.20 pm. Saturday racing is at Gowran Park with an all national hunt card away at 2 pm. The weekend finishes with two meetings on Sunday at Downpatrick in the North over the sticks and the first of flat meeting of the year on grass at headquarters in the Curragh.
Cheltenham Day 3
Thursday started with an Irish winner when Sir Des Champs won the Jewson Novice Chase for Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Davy Russell, but alas that was it for the Emerald Isle on the day. There was an Irish connection with the winner of the Ryanair Chase when Riverside Theatre, owned by Irish actor Jimmy Nesbitt and friends, came home by ˝ l and the same from Albertha’s Run and Medermit in a driving finish under Barry Geraghty.
The feature, the World Hurdle, was won for the 4th time by Big Bucks completing a run of 16 hurdle races in a row on the track.
Cheltenham Day 4
The second race, the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle, went to Alderwood trained by Tom Mullins and ridden by AP McCoy giving Ireland their 4th winner of the meeting.
The Albert Bartlett saw another Irish hot pot go down when Brindisi Breeze beat Boston Bob, trained by Willie Mullins, by 2l.
The holder of the Gold Cup Long Run, 3rd, and former champion Kauto Star, pulled up, both disappointed in the Gold Cup won by Jonjo O’Neill’s Syncronised, ridden by Tony McCoy for JP McManus. The Giant Bolster was runner-up. Syncronised had won Leopardstown’s Hennessey Cup and is home bred by JP’s wife Noreen.
The Irish maintained their reasonable record in the Foxhunters when Salsify ridden by Colman Sweeney beat Chapoturgeon and compatriot Oscar Delta in a real family affair as the horse is owned by Colman’s mother and trained by his father.
Nothing like last year’s record return of 13 winners but with 5 winners, 22 of the 27 winners ridden by Irish jockeys and 12 of the winners bred in Ireland it was a reasonable return for national hunt racing here. For the record of the other 15 winners 8 were bred in GB, 6 in France and 1 in Germany. Barry Geraghty was the leading rider with 5 winners, and Nicky Henderson was the leading trainer with 7 winners, passing the late Fluke Walwyn’s festival record haul of 40 to end the week with 46 Festival winners.
Invincible Ash owned by PJ Condron from Oran, trained by Michael Halford and ridden by Jamie Spencer won the Meydan Sprint beating the Edward Lynam trained Sole Power and David Marnane’s Nocturnal Affair run over 5f recently by a short head and ˝l. All 3 have been invited to take part in the Al Quoz Sprint on the 31st March, one of Meydan’s major races on World Cup night, a race in which Invincible Ash was an unlucky 4th last year.
Gold Cup hero Synchronised is one of 59 horses remaining in the John Smith's Grand National after last Tuesday's scratchings stage. The weights are headed by Synchronised on 11st 10lb, with last year's Grand National hero, Ballabriggs, on 11st 9lb.
Prince De Beauchene is one of six remaining entries from Willie Mullins' stable and of 23 Irish-trained entries still in the race. Other Irish-trained contenders include the progressive Seabass, locally owned and trained by Ted Walsh, and last year’s Irish Grand National winner Organisedconfusion, the likely mount of Nina Carberry.
The Gold Cup form is also represented by fourth-placed Burton Port, Midnight Chase, who came seventh, and Weird Al, who pulled up.
Gain Horse Feeds, a subsidiary of Glanbia PLC, has announced a two year sponsorship deal with The Curragh of the final Classic, the Irish St. Leger.
Gain take over the sponsorship of the Irish St. Leger from the Irish Field. The 97th running of the race will take place at the Curragh on Saturday 15th September 2012. Recent winners of the race include Yeats, Vinnie Roe, Oscar Schindler and subsequent Melbourne Cup winner Vintage Crop. Last year Duncan and Jukebox Jury dead heated creating race history.
After 25 years flat jockey Willie Supple has decided to call it day. The 43-year-old, multiple Group 1 winning pilot, cited the lack of opportunities to ride at the highest level as the main reason for his retirement. While he never won a classic he did win Goodwood’s Gordon Stakes and Royal Ascots Hardwicke Stakes on Bendari for Mark Johnston as well as the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown. Supple rode his first winner aboard Peak Squaw at Gowran Park in 1986 and his last winner on Caprella at Dundalk in October.
Leading lady jockey Irish lass Cathy Gannon hopes to be back in the saddle race riding on Friday after five months out with a broken leg suffered at Nottingham in October. The injury ended her best-ever season with 71 winners. Cathy was apprenticed to Kevin Prendergast in the Curragh before crossing the pond to ply her trade in England.
Point to Point Action:
On Saturday there is one meeting in the north with racing at Kirkistown in Co Down first race at 1.30 pm.
On Sunday there is racing at 4 venues - Liscarroll in Cork, first off at 1.30, at Lisronagh in Tipperary at 2.30 pm, at Monksgrange in Wexford starting at 2 pm and finally much nearer to home at Rathmorrissey outside Athenry in Co Galway with the first race also at 2 pm.
Another Geraghty appeared on the scene last weekend when Holly, sister of Barry, rode Some Run to victory in the novice riders maiden. The horse is owned by her mother Bee and trained by her father Tucker in Co Meath.
Last weekend Derek O’Connor’s nearest challenger, Barry O’Neill, drew a blank at Oldtown on Saturday and at Ballyragget on Sunday. In the race for the ladies title Katie Walsh increased her lead over Liz Lalor when riding Battlefront, trained by father Ted, to victory for the fourth time this season, maintaining the combinations 100% record between the flags.