Weekend Takeaways from Dublin Racing Festival

Tuesday, February 05, 2019
La Bague Au Roi and Warren Greatrex with Richard Johnson after winning the 'Flogas Novice Chase' at Leopardstown

La Bague Au Roi and Warren Greatrex with Richard Johnson after winning the "Flogas Novice Chase" at Leopardstown

No Diva antics as Crawley makes his mark

Shane Crawley’s progress has not gone unnoticed within racing circles in the last year or so, and Sassy Diva’s high-profile Dublin Racing Festival success, in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle will bring more attention.

Crawley is just 26 but has his licence five years. He only went training because the majority of the foals produced by his father John’s small band of broodmares were fillies that could not be moved on.

Astutely, the Dublin approached Pamela Carberry, wife of the late legendary jockey and trainer Tommy, about renting her yard and he is now training his select band of seven horses from the same facility in which Bobbyjo won an Aintree Grand National.

A homebred, Cashelard Lady provided him with his first winner in a Wexford bumper in October 2015. She won again that year and is now in foal to Mount Nelson.

Sassy Diva is another homebred that runs in Shane’s colours but four of his charges are now provided by outside owners. The Kalanisi eight-year-old has also been victorious in Ayr this term as well and her trainer’s return of four wins from 22 runners is his best to date.

The likelihood is that Sassy Diva will join the Crawley broodmare contingent sometime in the future, but it is clear that she has some good days left to come on the track before then.


Warren’s wonder Bagues Dublin priority

The impact the Dublin Racing Festival had in its inaugural season in 2018 is best illustrated by the fact that English-based trainer Warren Greatrex pinpointed the €73,750 first prize on offer in the Grade One Flogas Novice Chase as the prime target of the season for his brilliant mare La Bague Au Roi.

The attraction of earning a significant chunk of the €1.8m in prizemoney on offer was an obvious attraction and Greatrex would not be frightened off by the likely firepower possessed by the home team.

Greatrex has campaigned his star bravely all year, persistently taking on the geldings and beating them. She was already a Grade One winner over fences prior to being saddled for action at Leopardstown and with Richard Johnson on board, made it a pillar-to-post victory over Kaiser Black, who ran a stunning race for point-to-point handler Pat Doyle and his son Jack, who has been riding successfully in America for a number of years.

Just how important the win and day was to the Lambourn handler was evidenced by his admission that he had never been as nervous before a race – this from a man who has enjoyed multiple Cheltenham Festival success, including triumphing in the 2016 World Hurdle with Cole Harden.

He also suggested that more of his colleagues would make the journey in the coming years, such was the place the Festival was already establishing in the calendar.

The more the merrier.


Nolan’s renaissance gathering pace

Qamino was a popular winner of the Goffs Handicap Chase on Saturday, a late withering run after jumping the last in fourth helping him deny Dakota Moirette by half a length on the line.

It was a well-timed effort by jockey Bryan Cooper and more than ample compensation, with €51,625 going to owners Manverton Limited, having been denied by a head in the dying strides in Naas at the beginning of January.

This was the 16th win of the season for Paul Nolan, who has enjoyed a welcome resurgence in fortunes in the past 18 months. This tally is already his best since the 2014-2015 campaign and with the form his string is in at the moment, his target of 20 is within reach.

Like so many trainers, Nolan was a victim of the economic downturn but along with his brother and right-hand man James, has slowly rebuilt his stocks thanks to loyal owners. A multiple Grade One- and Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer, and a one-time All-Ireland-winning hurler with his native Wexford, the 50-year-old will forever be remembered for his handling of Voler La Vedette, Joncol, Noble Prince, Shinrock Paddy, Cloone River and Accordion Etoile among others.

Qamino has been wonderfully consistent this season and having just turned six, should have more progress in the tank. Discorama is another quality resident of Toberona Stables and was a very unlucky faller at the last when upsides eventual winner Ballyward in graded company at Naas recently. Fitzhenry is a good money-spinner and Chisholm Trail has been victorious twice.

Recording a Dublin Racing Festival winner confirms the Nolan renaissance. 

This was the 16th win of the season for Paul Nolan, who has enjoyed a welcome resurgence in fortunes in the past 18 months.

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