Will you get out of bed for this?

Its the first tuesday of November and the Melbourne Cup, the race that stops a nation is due off at 4am Irish time.

The big question is , will you get out of bed for it?

With 10 of the 23 runners racing under the banner of “northern hemisphere” gone are the heady days of Dermot Weld, Vintage Crop and Mick Kinane tilting at windmills and actually winning!!!!

With Willie Mullins supplying 3 runners, Thomas Hobson, Wicklow Brave and Max Dynamite the Master of Closutton, Co Carlow may just write his own page of history.

Not far away in Piltown, Co Kilkenny, Joseph O’Brien has mapped out this race for Rekindling and US Army Ranger while his father Aidan high on his record Group 1 exploits bids for further honours with Johannes Vermeer.

When you add three runners from Britain, Marmello, Wall of Fire and Nakeeta in addition to Red Cardinal for Germany and Tiberian for France it might just be worthwhile to set the alarm clock and make it to a television.

6 of the first 8 in the betting from William Hill are from this part of the world, so the odds seem good.

It will be a spectacle one way or the other and while none of them might be Vintage Crop or Makybe Diva , my pick just could be Tiberian at 28/1 for Alain Couetil and Olivier Peslier.

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Just an image or two……

We thought that we might just share an image or two from our recent past to remind all of us that they haven’t gone away you know!

Cheltenham Day 4…..you just have to hope!

Its been a struggle to find a decent winner this week so lets go out with Landofhopandglory in the 1.30 Triumph Hurdle for Joseph O’Brien and Robbie Power.

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Cheltenham Day 3…. Take the right line!

With winners hard to come by lets go for Toe The Line in the 4.50 today for John Kiely and Denis O’Regan.

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Cheltenham Day 1,Conquer and Brave.

20140915-114244-42164847.jpgVroum Vroum Mag takes her place today in the Mares Hurdle but my two fancies are e/w chances with Wicklow Brave in the 3.30 Champion Hurdle ridden by Paul Townend and Go Conquer in the 2.50 ridden by Aidan Coleman.

Moore and Casey take the top race on day 1 of Wexfords Bank Holiday Fixture

The October Bank Holiday Weekend kicked off on Saturday at Bettyville with a seven race card at Wexford Racecourse on day 1 of their 2 day fixture.

Sponsored in its entirety by Casey Enterprises based in North Co Wexford the willingness of this local business to support their local track is both noteworthy and commendable.

With a drying wind blowing across the harbour in Wexford Town the going was Good, Good to Firm in places , unseasonal in most years , but just a little quicker than than encountered at the same fixture last year!

So that O zone effect is most certainly having an impact in the Sunny South East.

Punters or more specifically favourite backers had a torrid enough time with only one winning favourite , and that was a 13/8 on chance in the very last race.

The steeplechase track was the curtain raiser with the two opening races utilising the 2 mile 3 furlong distance.

The days top prize , the €25,000 Casey Precast Handicap Steeplechase saw 8 horses face the starter following the withdrawal of course specialist, Foritsa.

With Call Rog going off favourite the Mark Walsh ridden horse diced with Dick Dundee until that Paul Nolan trained top weight headed him under a positive ride from Brian O’Connell.

The pace setters seemed to have done enough until veteran jockey David Casey unleashed a winning run from 6 year old Westerner gelding Mitebeall Forluck to collar the Kings Theatre 9 year old , Dick Dundee close home by a head.

Trained by the legendary Arthur Moore and carrying the colours of the yards longtime patron Chris Hanbury this well bred horse added to his one previous win , at Clonmel, returned at 13/2.

Speaking afterwards the winning trainer commented “He is ground dependent , who might run again tomorrow or early next week. He is going the right way, with the few extra furlongs here a help. He ran a blinder with David giving him a bloody good ride’

The opening Beginners Chase saw 9 runners face the starters flag with the Co Tipperary based Ballinard Billy taking it under Johnny Burke.

This race saw Burke set a good pace on the 9 year old Aidan Fogarty trained Anshan gelding Ballinard Billy.

Strongly pressed by Philip Rothwells , Merrion Row and Paul Nolans , Illtakeitfromhere two fences from home, they had to give way as David Splaine and Tulpar ran on to lead between the last two fences.

Tulpar ran about however on the run to the last and interfering with Illtakeitfromhere both of them failed to survive the fence with Tulpar unseating his rider and Mikey Fogarty falling on Illtakeitfromhere.

This melee allowed Burke and Ballinard Billy to regain the advantage and run out a 3/1 winner.

Speaking afterwards his enthusiastic owner Donal Cullen noted “We have put Ballinard , Co Tipperary on the map, we needed a bit of luck, he has had five seconds both on the track and in point to points. They went a fast pace but this was deserved”

The racing focus at the track switched to the hurdle course after the second race with Co Tipperary based trainer/jockey Denis Hogan taking the 2 mile 4 furlongs maiden hurdle on Beautiful Ben.

This 4 year old Beneficial gelding jumped well to lead from the second hurdle and stayed on comfortably to win.

Some of the competitiveness of the race was lost at the third last as the well fancied Hallings Treasure came down in the hands of Bryan Cooper a point mentioned afterwards by Hogan ” It was a weak enough maiden hurdle and with the favourite out you just couldn’t say what it was like” continuing “But he jumped well and thanks to Ann Grace from the yard, as she travels all the horses for me and gets them here ready to run”

With €10,000 on offer in the Casey Tarmacadam Mares Hurdle it was left to Kevin Sexton and Catamini to cause the surprise of the day when taking the 2 miles 4 furlong contest for Co Kildare based trainer,Sean Byrne at 14/1.

The home bred 6 year old daughter of Golan owned by the trainers wife Brenda returned to form here to win for the second time of her career at Wexford and the third time in all.

This was a very tight race as the entire field of five was in with a chance on the long run in after the last hurdle.

Speaking afterwards Byrne noted ” She is back to herself, we have had some problems with her hooves. She battled well today and we will try to stick to some mares hurdles ”

Co Clare trainer Michael McDonagh missed seeing his colours pass the winning post in first place as Taken Twice came from way off the pace in the Casey Concrete sponsored hurdle to win at 6/1.

Ridden by Co Kilkenny based Brian O’Connell the Presenting 8 year old “Disappointed the last day when ridden too handily, he got into a nice rhythm here , but good ground is the key to him” according to the winning jockey.

Lindas Choice had been in good form of late and the 7 year old Golan mare opened her account for her Co Kildare based trainer Homer Scott in 2 mile handicap hurdle.

Scott , famous for handling some really good horses in the past including from memory Omerta and The Illiad was quick to let his owners do the talking here following the 5/1 victory under Ricky Doyle.

The mare had been up with the pace pretty much all the way and with the last hurdle omitted the very, very long run home suited.

Champion amateur jockey Patrick Mullins was more than double jobbing at the track, as not only did he ride the only winning favourite on the day, Captain Carol, he also drove the horse lorry and did the media briefing before heading back to Co Carlow.

The 13/8 on favourite by Captain Rio 4 year old was “Professional, honest and a push button ride” with a strong indication given that she would be seen next over hurdles for her Co Sligo born owner MJ Mulvaney.

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No Typo, as Wexford Racecourse is treated badly.

And there I was thinking it was a typo!!

Late last year I looked at the 2014 racecourse fixture listing and saw the now traditional two day Halloween Weekend fixture at Wexford being staged on Saturday the 25th and Monday 27th.

Splitting a two day weekend fixture into two single meetings over three days looked like a typo….but I was wrong, oh so wrong!!!!!

Seemingly the Irish racing authorities decided to split the Wexford fixture, to allow Leopardstown to race on Saturday and Sunday the 26th bringing the flat racing season at the Dublin Track to a close while accommodating Galway with its Sunday and Monday fixture.

There have also been some mutterings of a clash with the Breeders Cup in the USA the following weekend???

Wexford is a relatively small provincial track, striving to keep its head above water , while attempting to enhance and improve its offering to racegoers and to the racing industry.

How this decision to split the two day fixture at the track helps , assists or enhances racing in the south east is totally unclear.

If a split two day fixture was beneficial surely Leopardstown, Galway et al would jump at it and stage it that way themselves.?

So I assume it isn’t beneficial for them.

So just why Wexford has to be sacrificed is the question?

Simply put , its the big boys stomping all over the little boys yet again with either Horse Racing Ireland or the Turf Club or both totally at fault.

Its an enormous pity that the biggest race meeting at Wexford has been treated so badly in this cavalier way and the racing authorities intend to repeat the dose in 2015!

So definitely no typo!

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With the defeat of Australia and Leading Light, “Champions” weekend was an anti climax.

So Ive been away for a few weeks and the news hasn’t been good.

From what I can see Aidan O’Brien had a bit of a miserable Champions weekend at Leopardstown and the Curragh with odds on favourites Australia and Leading Light all failing to win with the Champion Stakes and Irish St Leger being taken by British challengers The Grey Gatsby and Brown Panther.

Australia over his optimum trip of 10 furlongs seemed set up to win the Group 1 Champion , but Kevin Ryan and Ryan Moore had other ideas. So the bubble of invincibility was burst, with another 3 year colt lowering the Ballydoyle hot pots colours.

Sometimes all the hype and all the superlatives are just , well words and its on the racecourse that the action takes place and not on the airwaves nor on the printed page!

So is the The Grey Gatsby the champion 3 year old? Im not sure of that one and maybe its time for us to drop all these titles in any case. What actual use are they? Maybe only in truth only a marketing ploy for a stallion career?

He is without doubt a very very good 3 year old, who has blossomed and improved since springtime and seems best in or around 10 furlongs.

I had believed that O’Brien had done very well to take the Epsom and Irish Derby’s with Australia over a trip beyond his best and that he would be unbeatable , at least by his own generation over shorter distances.

Oh how wrong I was!

What then of Leading Light? Quirky perhaps, but a horse with enormous ability and a race record to match it,looking like being nearly capable of following on from Yeats was well and truly trounced by Michael Owens , Brown Panther.

This son of Shirocco is a good horse who thrives on good to firm ground and the lead he was given by O’Brien’s pacemaker seemed to play into his hands.

Is he the best stayer in Europe? At 6 years of age maybe he is , but its sure taken him a few years to get to that height!

So for all the talk and all the marketing, a champions weekend should have the “champions” winning, in this case it looked like a bit of a miserable anti climax , for these two horses at least!

But that view isn’t one that anyone pushing the whole Champions project wants to hear!!!!!

So the sun has gone down on the Champions weekend here in Ireland, surely someone will critically analyse it ?

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Wexford brings its summer season to a close with some Good to Firm going!

The Summer race season at Bettyville came to a close on Saturday afternoon the 30th with a low key all flat race card on offer at Wexford Racecourse.

With a going description at best of ,good , during the week , an overnight change of going saw Good to Firm added leading to 11 withdrawals before race time.

Perhaps the racing authorities got it wrong at the declaration stage, but many trainers took the opportunity to withdraw their horses, once the word firm was added.

Given the fact that only 66 horses were declared it was pretty clear that any wholesale level of withdrawal’s would decimate the card, with the racing authorities responsible for the outcome.

With no watering of the track evident to my eye, added to a warm sunny day and drying wind blowing across the track all ending up with a 20% withdrawal making many of the races potentially a little on the non competitive side.

Did they declare the wrong Going ? Was it not already good to fast in places on Friday?Were they praying for overnight rain ?

Fortunately for racecourse management , some exciting and interesting racing was served up with 4 winning favourites and a double a piece for trainer David Wachman and jockey Seamie Heffernan.

With a fiver per person entry and a nice afternoon weatherwise to tempt the race going public the attendance struggled to reach reasonable levels let alone break any records.

The most valuable race of the day opened proceedings with the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden. Six faced the starter in this 1 mile plus race with Co Tipperary based David Wachman taking it with Que Sera Sera.

This Dansili 3 year old went off the 11/4 favourite following the withdrawal of Dermot Welds Comtesse and built on her previous placed efforts to open her account here.

Another track winner in the colours of JP McManus this filly was settled in behind the leader Celestial Fable by her jockey Fran Berry with them taking control 2 furlongs out to win comfortably in the end.

Winning connections were represented by Frank Berry, JP McManus’s racing manager who was on hand to accept the winning trophy and stated, “She did it grand, likes the ground, got a good positive ride and stayed on nicely.” Before adding “The Cheek pieces helped, so we will go for another handicap somewhere, but it was good gaining a winning bracket”

Wachman was absent on the afternoon and he missed seeing a nice double for his yard when Mr Rock justified his prohibitive odds of 11/4 on in the hands of Wayne Lordan.

This 3 year old by Galileo was never in any danger with the Michael O’ Flynn owned and bred horse putting his four rivals to the sword.

Winning jockey Wayne Lordan indicated afterwards. “It was not much of a contest, but he had had two good runs and this was a nice step forward”

It would be no great surprise to me if he saw a hurdle or two in the future, but thats just speculation.

Ten runners faced the starter for the 1 mile 3 and a half furlongs of the Childrens Day at Bettyville Handicap with previous course winner An Fear Ciuin favourite to give Wachman and McManus another winner on the day.

This horse didn’t however get in a blow at the business end of the race with Unrequited passing the post the comfortable winner for Ger Lyons and Colin Keane.A 13/2 chance , the 3 year old by Authorised is well thought of in the Lyons yard and is “A nice staying horse for the future” according to stable representative Shane Lyons.

Unfortunately for all concerned celebrations ended swiftly as winning jockey Colin Keane didn’t weigh in.

With the race awarded to Coolfighter, Seamie Heffernan got the first leg of his double in place in most fortunate circumstances. The 6 year old Black Sam Bellamy horse won twice at the Tramore Festival meeting earlier in the month and recently acquired by Noel Dooly he was giving his Co Wexford based trainer a second win in two weeks. No doubt he hopes to add a few more for his new owners.

Heffernan is a most capable jockey and has long been a part of the Aidan O’Brien team at Ballydoyle with his services much in demand from outside yards, particularly the smaller ones.

Two miles around Wexford on a horse with a stable reputation “as a bit of a Boyo” can lead to some interesting outcomes , but Heffernan rode the 7 year old Verglas gelding Magnetic Force to perfection for Robbie Hennessy’s Co Meath yard at 16/1.

With the well supported grey horse , Greatness ,from the Tony Martin yard getting a lot of attention from his handler fading very quickly in front 3 furlongs from home, it was Heffernan and Magnetic Force that opened up an unassailable lead to win.

Hennessy indicated afterwards that “He is a versatile horse, maybe Dundalk or Navan next, but we will have a bit of fun with him”

Jim Bolger is always keen to have a winner in his native county and he despatched Gold Focus from his Co Carlow yard in an attempt to add to her Ballinrobe win on the previous Wednesday night.

This fine rangy 3 year old Intense Focus filly came from off the pace to get up under a strong ride from Ronan Whelan to win the Wexford Apprentice Handicap.

Ger Flynn representing Bolgers yard commented “She was well placed here by the boss following her win earlier. She stays well and as our last runner here today she pays for the diesel home”

The Shelmalier Qualified Riders race was a three runner affair over 2 miles with Katie Walsh taking the honours on the Peter Fahey trained Alton Bay.

This 6 year old son of Pushkin went off the 3/1 outsider of 3 and came home in front having being well handled by Walsh.

Biding her time behind Macnicholson and Totally Dominant , the Co Kildare trained horse won comfortably”He switched off lovely today. He is a good horse and could be a nice novice hurdler in the spring” according to Fahey.

With Patrick Mullins taking the concluding Enniscorthy Mares Bumper on Morning Run at 3/1 on it will be interesting to see if the Kings Theatre mare can be as good as a previous winner of this race Annie Power! We will have to wait and see.

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A letter for Tramore in seven easy steps!

Mid August is the traditional Irish holiday time with the 15th of August marking the end of summer.

Tramore Racecourse has long held this date with a racing fixture at the Co Waterford track. Now extended to a four day festival this meeting offers a mixture of flat and national hunt racing at the seaside venue.

With good ground on offer and a sharp , tight track facing everyone , horses with a bit of previous form at the venue are worth a look.

So for anyone interested lets spin through Tramore and highlight a horse or two with my letter for Tramore in seven easy steps!

Thoonavolla a 6 year old son of Beneficial has run well on his last two runs at Downpatrick and Ballinrobe. Trained in Mooncoin, Co Killkenny by Eoin Doyle this horse while still a maiden tries his hand here over fences and could just win on the 15th. He will lack for nothing with Brian O’Connell in the saddle, and may have most to fear from John Queally’s Darwins Theory or Paul Nolan’s Behemoth.

Run Fly Run comes from the all conquering Willie Mullins yard with the Kalanisi 5 year old likely to run on the 17th in an amateur maiden hurdle. Mullins has a strong link to the track as one of its Directors and will have a good team of horses competing. Owned by the Supreme Racing Club he opened his account at Ballinrobe under Patrick Mullins in a bumper in late July. If Mullins chooses to try him over hurdles here the pointer should be taken.

Ashjar represents the same yard with the 4 year old son of Oasis Dream holding a winning chance. Mullins has declared the horse for the Waterford & Tramore Racecourse Directors Rated Novice Hurdle on Friday evening with Paul Townend in the saddle. The French bred has won at the track already this year and went on to win a race on the flat at Roscommon.
He wont have it all his own way here as Henry De Bromheads , Damefirth and Gordon Elliots , Moss Street will be serious challengers. Tactics in this small field will be crucial and while the odds might not be lucrative, he may give a return.

Marty’s Magic trained at Rosewell House Co Kildare by the globetrotting Dermot Weld runs in the famous colours of Dr Michael Smurfit. Made famous by Vintage Crop at Melbourne, Curragh and Newmarket, they might be seen in the winners circle at Tramore on this 5 year old Tale of the Cat gelding. A maiden in all codes Weld is probably the best trainer around to find a winning opportunity for a horse. Marty’s Magic has shown enough placed form to give the Curragh maestro a real chance of winning yet again in the sunny south east.

Oscar Vespasian is a tentative enough choice to win for John Queally’s Co Waterford yard. With a declaration on the 15th and entries for the 17th the horse might just run twice, so hopefully he will win once!
He has a bit of placed form with a third here in atrocious conditions in December. He looks like a horse that prefers a bit of nice ground. With Johnny Burke in the saddle he will benefit from his 5lb claim to reduce his topweight burden.

Roman Numeral continues the Roman theme, as Vespasian was a Roman Emperor in historic times. Eoin Doyle has had the 6 year old Kings Best gelding in rare good form with wins at Kilbeggan and Tramore. Doyle may run him more than once but his first target is the Flynn Group Hotel Handicap Hurdle where he locks horns with Galway winner Beckwith Star. With both of them joint top weights they might be under pressure to hold on , so we will see.

Everything Zain is our final letter for Tramore with the Dessie Hughes gelding holding an entry on Saturday. This Cape Cross 5 year old suffers a little from seconditis on the flat but he just could open his account here. Running in the trainers colours he could finally add another win to his name.

Thats a letter for Tramore in seven easy steps! Enjoy!

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