has it sussed
The second coming of Jessica Harrington has been
one of the great narratives of world racing in the past few years, given that
septuagenarian is joined in the odyssey by her daughters Emma and Kate. While
more trainers than ever are maintaining a presence in both National Hunt and
Flat racing, it is difficult to argue with the claim that the Commonstown Stud
handler is the premier dual-purpose trainer on the planet.
Her handling of Alpha Centauri served to advertise
those talents further, the Niarchos Family’s filly winning four consecutive
Group 1 prizes and giving her trainer a first Classic and first Royal Ascot
triumph. This happened not much more than a year after bagging the most
important race on the National Hunt calendar, the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Sizing
John will be attempting to regain his crown after
missing out on the race last March and his supporters will be delighted to see
Team Harrington clearly in good heart, following a treble at Navan yesterday thanks
to Jetz, Walk To Freedom and Barrington Court.
And while the racing public have their jumping hats
on now, a large new battalion of yearlings are being prepared for next season’s
flat programme far away from the limelight. It seems impossible to keep track
of it all but Harrington and co clearly have it sussed.
galore in Kilmessan
Kilmessan Camogie Club won the AIB All-Ireland
Junior A Club Camogie title for the second year in a row and third time in five
seasons on Sunday but it wasn’t the only success being toasted around the Meath
Local trainer, Matthew Smith has been slowly
building up his string with the support of his father, Kevin since swapping the
construction industry for training. Last season, he finished with seven
winners, including Prince Garryantle triumphing during the campaign-concluding
National Hunt Festival at Punchestown.
Warnaq is the best horse to have gone through his
hands, claiming the Grade 2 Flyingbolt Novice Chase at Navan in February 2015
before being sold to America, where he won the Grand National at Fair Hills with
Ruby Walsh doing the urging.
More recently Warnaq, who runs in Kevin’s colours,
has been catching the eye and appeared a good thing in the Davis Civil
Engineering Handicap Hurdle at Navan on ratings given her easy handicap win at
Naas on the final day of the Flat season. So it proved, the four-year-old going
off in front in customary fashion and never seeing a rival.
Smith is clearly shrewd when it comes to spotting opportunities
and while this was his first triumph of the current NH campaign, the likelihood
that this filly will deliver again before the year is out. It says a lot for
the young handler that Warnaq has retained her freshness, as that was her 11th
run of the year and 15th since making her debut, finishing third at
66/1 in a 3yo Flat maiden at Tipperary in September 2017.
Francis Casey is not one to back down from a
challenge, as evidenced last Thursday when pitching Eight Till Late in against
Alpha Des Obeaux and Valseur Lido in the Listed Boomerang Animal Bedding and
Boomerang Horse & Country Store Chase at Thurles. Though third of three,
the 10-year-old finished less than one and a half lengths off the winner, Alpha
The gelding went into that race in the form of his
life, with three wins already this year, his versatility illustrated by the
fact that he followed his first ever win on the Flat under Oisín Orr at
Leopardstown in July with victories over hurdles and fences, when Orr’s older
brother Conor was doing the steering.
With just three days’ rest, and some recuperative
trips to the sea, the Early to Late Syndicate’s pride and joy ran a brilliant
race in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase at Navan yesterday, travelling supremely
well before tiring understandably in the closing stages to be seventh of 25.
Casey became a licensed trainer in January, taking
over after the death of his father. One of the most colourful characters in
Irish racing, Peter Casey was best known as trainer of multiple Grade 1 victor
Flemenstar. Eight Till Late, who has won 10 times, provided Casey Snr with his
last taste of success at Sligo in August 2017.
Peter was never afraid to take on the big guns, or
to eschew convention and it seems that Francis is the same. It was fitting then
perhaps, that Ar Eagla Na Heagla would clock up a third win of the campaign for
Casey Jnr in the Join Gowran Racing Club Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at Gowran Park
on Saturday, with the name translating directly as ‘For fear of fears’, meaning
‘Just in case(y)’.
The four-year-old is
owned by the One Plus Two Partnership, and while Tom Richardson is undoubtedly
an important figure in the ownership group, one suspects that the other duo –
Casey’s mother Junie and wife Paul – need to be kept happy most of all. So job