Big Weekend: The stories shaping racing at Fairyhouse, Limerick and Sligo


Friday, July 12, 2019
Big Weekend 12th

Fairyhouse Fever

It may be the home of the Irish Grand National but there is more to Fairyhouse than that and Sunday sees the Meath venue play host to a very interesting Flat programme.

The feature is the Group 3 Brownstown Stakes, won previously by high-class fillies of the calibre of Fiesolana and Ainippe.

Realtra won for Roger Varian in 2017 and there are three cross-channel challengers in the form of Heavenly Holly for Hugo Palmer, who calls on Billy Lee to do the navigating, Indian Blessing for Ed Walker, who has the ageless Gerald Mosse steering, and Perfection, trained by Tipperary native David O’Meara and ridden by Shane Foley.

Aidan O’Brien is triply represented, with Fire Fly the highest rated and ridden by his son Donnacha, while Black Magic Woman is chasing a hat-trick of wins for young trainer Jack Davison and jockey Gary Halpin.

Michael Halford and Ronan Whelan combine with Surrounding, who is the highest-rated filly. The six-year-old daughter of Lilbourne Lad has been a model of consistency this term and may be the one they all have to beat.

 

Fogarty finds his feet

Aidan Fogarty is a trainer who has made an impact this season, with three winners from 19 runners already on the Flat in Ireland and one from three in Britain, having previously failed to register one in three previous terms with runners on the level.

The Kilfeacle conditioner had been more successful in the National Hunt sphere however, with 11 triumphs, three of which came last year from just 23 runners.

Fogarty has been aided this term by the decision of Theresa and Con Marnane to run a handful of their horses on native turf, having enjoyed so much success with their French contingent.

His only runner this weekend however is over the larger obstacles. Robin On The Hill takes his place in the Handipak Play Live on 25th July Beginners Chase (5.05) at Limerick tomorrow, with Luke Dempsey getting the leg up.

Owned and bred by Aidan’s father Joe, who held the training licence before him, Robin On The Hill won a handicap hurdle in Punchestown comfortably on good ground last January, and was first past the post in Wexford 12 months ago before being disqualified.

It is probably best to adopt a watching brief on debut over fences after a four-month lay-off but with Fogarty clearly knowing the time of day, it is a brief that might yield dividends.

 

Mullins mixes it up

Emmet Mullins has enjoyed a very good start to his training career, in both codes. Being a small operator, he cannot afford to have a retained jockey of course and has to shop around for the best pilot he can find.

Having first cousins who are among the premier exponents in the land is a help and Patrick rides many of his bumper horses, along with Rose Dudfield.

There are no bumper runners this weekend but the five runners will be ridden by four different jockeys.

Brian Hayes is the only pilot employed on the double, being called into action at Sligo on Sunday, on Argent Et Or in the Durkin Bros Electrical Maiden Hurdle (2.15) and The Last Emperor in the Taylor Construction & Civil Works Maiden Hurdle (1.45).

Mullins is also represented in the latter contest by Pilbara, who will have another cousin, Danny in the plate.

Tomorrow, it is David’s turn to get the nod, on board Lambs Lane in the Handipak Play Live On 25th July Beginners Chase (5.05).

On the Flat, Emmet has secured the services of classic-winning jockey Chris Hayes once more for Percy B Shelley in the Summer Evening Racing 17th July Handicap (5.30) at Fairyhouse on Sunday. The pair combined for victory in Gowran Park earlier this year and ran well when fourth last time out. Off the same mark, they could go close.

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