Eye catcher of the weekend
There were plenty of standout performances but the
eye-catching nature of Battleoverdoyen’s emphatic victory on debut over hurdles
stood out. Gigginstown House Stud supremo, Michael O’Leary frantically tried to
douse the flames of hype for subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Don Cossack
in the past and is almost gleeful that a couple of reverses have reduced the
number of superlatives being tossed in Samcro’s direction, for now. His latest
prospect will require similar attempts at playing things down, one suspects.
The strapping son of Doyen and Battle Over has
clearly been showing ability from early on, going off an even-money favourite
when winning his 4yo maiden at Loughanmore for Jerry Cosgrave in April 2017.
Gordon Elliott shelled out £235,000 for him five days later at Cheltenham and crucially,
gave him time to develop.
It was no surprise that there were signs of
greenness when making his racecourse debut in a Punchestown bumper at the end
of November, getting the hang of things late on in what was his only his second
ever race and first for 18 months.
There was a fair degree of excitement then about
his hurdling debut, as evidenced by the late money that sent him from the
already prohibitive 8/13 to 8/15. The benefit of the run was evident as he
effortlessly pulled clear of the more experienced Momus, winning by 13 lengths
without jockey Jack Kennedy moving a muscle.
It was stunning but what really stood out was the
quality of the gelding’s hurdling. It was gun-barrel straight, quick and
accurate. Little wonder Elliott wasn’t hanging around the bumper route. The
Cullentra House handler signalled a likely step up in trip next, with the Grade
1 Lawlors Hotel Novice Hurdle at Naas a potential target. It would represent a
stiffer test but right now, the world is his oyster.
The wonder of Walsh
Social media has so many positive aspects but among
its least edifying aspects is the free rein it offers to those wishing to not
just find fault but lambast. Sportspeople are among the most vilified members
of our society and jockeys rank highly in that regard, due no doubt to the
failed financial investment members of public have placed in horses.
It is ironic that the most successful appear to be
the most derided. The nature of racing is that even the champion jockey will
lose the vast majority of times he or she goes out onto the track.
Remarkably, one of the greatest pilots in the
history of horse racing, Ruby Walsh has been in the sights of the denigrators.
This remember, is a man who has bagged more than 200 Grade 1 races, is a
10-time champion, is so good that Willie Mullins was willing to share him with
Paul Nicholls and in the 2004/2005 season, was a short head away thanks to the
recalcitrance of Cornish Rebel in the Scottish Grand National, from garnering
all four Grand Nationals in the one season.
The Kildare jockey has few peers as a judge of
pace, is a supreme stylist, his quietness in the saddle is a joy for horse
people, as is his unwillingness to send out distress signals until as late as
possible. And he is as powerful as any man or woman in a finish.
All those traits were on display when Easy Game got
the better of stablemate Getareason in a stirring conclusion to the Grade 2
Navan Novice Hurdle. It was a stupendous piece of navigation by Walsh, smuggling
his partner into the race, and making a particularly bold swerving manoeuvre up
the inner between the third last and penultimate flights. He then drove his
willing partner into a gap that was just big enough, before easing to the front
approaching the last, where he got a good leap.
It was time for the strength as Easy Game was actually
headed by Getareason, who was given an equally good ride by Paul Townend taking
the wide route. But Walsh and Easy Game knuckled down to win by two lengths. A
Mullins is one of the hardest-working jockeys in racing and while he has
benefited from some choice rides for his Uncle Willie in the last few years and
been supplied eight winners to date this season, the array of trainers availing
of his considerable talents is notable. Crucially, he is doing the business for
a number of them too and enjoyed a double at Navan yesterday.
brought his tally to 33 from 313 rides, bringing him level with his first
cousin Patrick and leaving him just two off his end-of-term account last term.
It also keeps him in with a chance of setting a new personal best, which stands
at 46 from a whopping 495 rides in 2016/2017. At present, only two jockeys –
Rachael Blackmore and Andrew Lynch – have been employed more.
26-year-old was very forceful in getting Danse Away’s head in front for Tom
Nagle to complete the double. Nagle was the 16th trainer Mullins had
been successful for so far this term.
first leg was registered in conjunction with Salty Boy, for his mother Mags. It
was the fourth time they had combined triumphantly during the campaign. It was
a day to remember and a reminder once more of why he is such a busy jockey.