Two day Fixture at Bettyville Park

The highlight of summer racing was served up to race goers in pleasant conditions at Bettyville Park over two days of last week, Friday and Saturday the 26th and 27th of July. With an all national hunt card offered up on the Friday evening racecourse management then switched codes to give us a full day of flat racing on the Saturday afternoon in addition to staging the hugely popular Littlewoods Ladies Day. It would have been just about the last opportunity that punters would have had to generate a few euro prior to the start of the Galway racing Festival, and with five winning favourites they probably didn’t o all that bad, particularly as the Saturday fixture saw every winner coming in at 5/1 and much shorter.

A number of our senior national hunt jockeys made the trip on Friday evening, including Davy Russell, Barry Geraghty, David Casey and John Cullen in addition to Ben Dalton, Davy Condon and Andrew McNamara, as they took the last opportunity to sharpen up before Galway, which is staged for the full week, starting yesterday (Monday) and finishing next Sunday. Funnily enough it was the 7lb claimer Jody McGarvey who rode a career first double on the Friday evening that made the headlines but even this paled into the shadows with the scintillating four timer by Ronan Whelan (the first of his career) all for Jim Bolger on the Saturday afternoon fixture making him the toast of the track.

With Co. Carlow based Bolger at Ascot, in Britain, to supervise the challenge of Trading Leather in the Group 1 King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, all four winners were either bred, owned and or trained by Bolger and his wife Jackie. With his Irish Derby Winner, Trading Leather, finishing second in the first major all age Group 1 in Europe in 2013, Bolger would most likely have traded his four winners at Wexford just to win the Ascot highlight, but it’s still no bad thing to train four winners, particularly on your own home turf!

The attendance was sizeable on both racing days good buoyed up, on the Saturday afternoon no doubt by the Littlewoods sponsored Ladies day, hosted by Sile Seoige the glam, glitz and colour generated greatly added to the day.

With the going (on both days) just about as quick as you could safely race on Jim Bolger’s horses seemed to relish the conditions with the Oilgate native, sending out four winners on the Saturday afternoon fixture. All ridden by the stables 3 lb claimer, Ronan Whelan, the young county Kildare man punched the air with delight after booting home Star Power in the concluding Gorey Rated Race run over two miles. This 6 year old son of Galileo has only ever previously won on the All Weather track at Dundalk (twice), but having come back to winning form since his initial 3 year old win, Whelan collared the longtime leader, Toreto ,on the run to the line to justify 2/1 favouritism. Whelan was in outstanding form all afternoon and seemed to conjure up just that little bit of extra effort from all his mounts to win.

Plans for this horse will most likely see him stay at trips similar to here. This really did cap an historic day for Whelan, which opened with an emphatic win for, Morga, a 3 year old daughter of Whipper in the Irish Stallion Farms Fillies Maiden over an extended mile and half a furlong. Running for the eighth time in her career the filly whose best form had previously been on much softer ground, took control in the home straight, after coming off the pace to win well at 7/2 upsetting favourite backers on Fire and Flame. Winning connections indicated afterwards that “It’s a nice start to the day” given how well she on here and her previous form, this filly could be stepped up a little in class if not in distance next time.

The days biggest pot the €10,000 Slaney Handicap, run over one mile and three and a half furlongs saw only six horses face the starter with Bolgers, Something Graceful, being sent off the even money favourite under the star of the day, Ronan Whelan. Running for the twentieth time the 4 year old daughter of Galileo had to fight hard to get past the leader, Benbecula, and then to hold off the fast finishing, Phangio, by half a length. Obviously needing every inch of the distance here, Whelan got her past the leader to get her head in front close home.

With a fundraising and awareness effort being made on the day in relation to Cystic Fibrosis and its treatment two races the Audrey McGrath Memorial and Racecourse Challenge for Cystic Fibrosis shared the spotlight.

Ronan Whelan took the mount on the Jim Bolger reserve, Irish Bulletin, in the Audrey McGrath Memorial Handicap, with the 3 year old son of Invincible Spirit, making his seasonable debut, just getting up on the line to win at 3/1. It looked like the leader, Flowing Air, always towards the front had done enough, but the red hot Whelan galvanised Irish Bulletin for a final effort to win. Speaking afterwards, Whelan commented, “It’s is great for the Boss, I gave the horse a smack as he is very green and he will only come on for that”

Noel Dooly has only in the past fortnight renewed his trainer’s licence and the Co Waterford man, now operating out of a yard owned by Larry Byrne near Clonroche Co. Wexford, sent out his first winner since his return when Kims Dream, a 6 year old mare by Antonius Pius sprouted wings under Shane Gorey to win at 5/1. Bred by Dooly this mare has a nice handicap mark over hurdles and could try to capitalise on this very soon.

The days other two winners went to Tommy Stack’s Co Tipperary yard, Light Some Cass, who showed the benefit of an increase in trip to win the Littlewoods Ireland Maiden under Wayne Lordan at 4/1. While, Jan Van Eyck, added to his win in Navan in June to win at 5/2. Trained by Gerard O’ Leary in Co Kildare, the 3 year old son of Ravens Pass, already schooled over hurdles will most likely be seen in that sphere soon.

The National hunt brigade had their day or evening more correctly, in the sun, on Friday the 26th. New Ross man Ben Dalton was on the mark in the opening Maiden Hurdle and the 7 year son of Bishop Of Cashel , Obispo, made the long trip from Colm McBratneys yard in Co Down to make every yard of the running to win at 3/1. Dalton, great value for his 5 lb claim will be hoping to be busy at Galway in the coming week.

J P McManus has long supported the conditional jockeys through his Martinstown Opportunity series and it is not often that the Limerick man actually wins his own race, but so it happened when, Good Decision, took the two mile four furlong race under Jody McGarvey. Trained by Christy Roche, the 9 year old son of Kayf Tara, a previous winner at the track benefitted from the fall of Colm Murphys, Corr Point at the last to win. Mc Manus ‘s spokesman Frank Berry stated “ He ran a blinder at Bellewstown, he got a grad ride here, he handles the ground well, we will go for something similar”

Zane Grey, a 6 year old son of Flemensfirth finally got his act together for Henry De Bromhead to win the Handicap Hurdle under Andrew Lynch to win at 12/1 for his wife Heather. Speaking afterwards De Bromhead stated “We always thought he was good, but he has been disappointing. I wasn’t sure that he would handle the ground, as he hits it so hard, but he hopped off it. Hopefully my wife Heather will make it to Tramore for his next race, so the pressure is on!”

In an unusual card the bumper was run as the fourth race, with Patrick Mullins and his father Willie, teaming up to win with, Supreme Bailerina. This 5 year daughter of Norse Dancer was 13/8 on in the betting ring and duly won as the odds predicted.

With the bumper out of the way the chase course took centre stage for the reminder of the card with Eoin Doyle supplying, Count Salazar an 8 year old by Revoque winning the Handicap Chase over three miles and one furlong under Jody Mc Garvey at 9/2 joint favourite to record THIS YOUNG Co Derry mans double.

The Beginners Chase saw the mare Pestal and Mortar , an 8 year old by Tamayaz, win at 8/1 under Mark Bolger, while Peter McCreery saddled, Old Supporter, an 8 year old by Sunshine Street won the final race on the card at 7/1.