HRI Review

Racing Review

Cheltenham Festival Beckons For Champayne Lady

Champayne Lady is to take her chance in the mares’ novice hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next month after her cosy success in the opening mares’ maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse on Wednesday. Ridden by Denis O'Regan for Alan Fleming and sporting the colours of Barry Connell’s son Rory, the 9/4 chance saw off the Gordon Elliott-trained 6/4 favourite Moonlight Escape in good style. Elliott bounced back to win the novice handicap hurdle with the Davy Russell-ridden 4/1 chance Pat’s Oscar. Willie Mullins and Bryan Cooper teamed up to win the 2m4f maiden hurdle with 8/11 favourite Force Of Forces and another odds-on shot to oblige was the Sean Aherne-trained Nicole’s Milan, the 9/10 favourite, which completed a double for Russell in the 2m5f handicap chase. Denis Hogan both trained and rode the gambled-on 5/1 chance Samson Bill to win the beginners’ chase while the maiden hunters’ chase went to 4/1 shot Allannahs Gold for Cappagh, County Waterford trainer Declan Queally and Derek O’Connor. A more local winner was Dermot McLoughlin’s Ballymadun which landed the 2m4f handicap hurdle under Navan rider Danny Hand. 

Robbie Downey Maintains Good Run At Dundalk

Dundalk has been kind to Robbie Downey this winter and the Kilcock jockey was on the mark once again on the all-weather when taking the 6f handicap on the rejuvenated Master Speaker. The 13/8 favourite ran out the easiest winner of the night to win for the second time for Lusk, County Dublin trainer Ado McGuinness. There was a controversial conclusion to the 8f maiden when 2/9 favourite Port Lions, ridden for Michael Halford by Pat Smullen was first passed the post but was disqualified and placed second behind the Cormac Farrell-trained 9/2 chance Max Velocity and Rory Cleary after causing interference in the closing stages. Over the same distance, Mostawfee landed the handicap for Curragh trainer Johnny Feane to give 18-year-old Skibbereen, County Cork rider Adam Farragher his first winner. His fellow apprentices Donagh O’Connor and Ross Coakley also rode winners. O’Connor partnered the Garvan Donnelly-trained 5/1 chance Plough Boy to victory in the 5f handicap while Coakley took the concluding 10f handicap on California Lad, a 6/1 winner for Fergal Birrane. More senior riders Shane Foley and Leigh Roche took the 12f handicap and the 10f maiden respectively. Foley teamed up with Andy Oliver’s 11/4 favourite Financial Conduct while Roche and Darren Bunyan were successful with 5/1 shot Winston Wolfe. 

Big Gowran Park Double For Jessica Harrington And Robbie Power

Our Duke and Forge Meadow were the big winners at Gowran Park on Saturday to give Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power a notable double on Red Mills day. Our Duke battled well to see off Presenting Percy in the Grade 2 chance at odds of 5/2 while 7/4 chance Forge Meadow impressed when taking the Grade 3 hurdle. Our Duke is heading for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham where he will be ridden by Noel Fehily, with Robbie Power riding last year’s hero Sizing John. Willie Mullins shared a double with his nephew David. The pair made a winning start to the afternoon with 3/1 shot Some Neck in the beginners’ chase and followed up with Triumph Hurdle-bound Saldier, the 4/9 favourite, in the maiden hurdle. Danny Mullins was on board as 9/4 chance Tongie won the 2m handicap chase for another local trainer, Pat Fahy. Sheila Lavery and Robbie Colgan won the 2m4f handicap hurdle with 12/1 shot Laid Back Luke while the gambled-on 5/4 favourite Mary B took the bumper for Charles Byrnes and Richie Deegan. 

Navan Four-Timer Has Elliott Well On Top

Gordon Elliott continues to dominate at Navan and the season’s leading trainer bagged four winners, including a pair of Grade 2s, at the course on Sunday. He landed a 1-2 in both races with the Davy Russell-ridden 4/6 favourite Diamond Cauchois easily beating Lieutenant Colonel in the Grade 2 Ladbrokes Ireland Boyne Hurdle and 5/4 favourite Monbeg Notorious edging out Mossback to win the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase under Jack Kennedy. Elliott gave Russell a second winner when 5/4 favourite Lackaneen Leader easily won the mares’ handicap hurdle while Lisa O’Neill did the steering as 5/2 shot Master Of Tara won the bumper. Dis Donc came good for Noel Meade and Sean Flanagan at odds of 4/1 in the 2m maiden hurdle while another well-fancied winner was 13-year-old De Benno, a 3/1 joint-favourite, which won the opportunity handicap hurdle for Nenagh, County Tipperary trainer James Grace and Trevor Ryan. A 13/8 chance overnight, Drumconnor Lad justified considerable market support to win the rated novice chase for Adrian Keatley and Mark Walsh. He was returned the 4/6 favourite and dug deep to win from the Elliott-trained Robin Des Mana. 

Racing News

Horse Racing Ireland Launch Student Summer Internships

Horse Racing Ireland have launched their student summer internship programme, open to all Third Level students.  There are four paid placements available, commencing in June and running throughout the summer over a 10 to 12-week period. Students will benefit from mentoring by experienced professionals while developing their practical skills and gaining valuable experience in all aspects of the racing industry including marketing, communications, social media, sales, racecourse operations, race day planning and event management. Three of the four interns will be based in HRI Head Office at Ballymany, Kildare and the fourth intern will be based at Leopardstown Racecourse. Further details and application form are available at  Closing date for applications is March 23, 2018.

Ned Heads For Punchestown

Simply Ned is unlikely to run again before returning to these shores for the Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown at the end of April. The Nicky Richards-trained 11-year-old claimed the biggest victory of his career in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown in December, albeit winning the race in the stewards' room after Min was demoted. He returned to the Foxrock venue for the Coral Dublin Chase earlier this month and while Min turned the tables emphatically, Simply Ned continued his excellent record of having never finished out of the first three in five visits to the track by filling the runner-up spot. Richards resisted the temptation to enter his charge for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham next month, but he could run in the Champion Chase at Punchestown the following month.

Westport Jockey Ted Durcan Retires

Dual Classic winner Ted Durcan, a seven-time champion jockey in the United Arab Emirates, has announced his retirement from race-riding at the age of 44. Mayo-born Durcan was a late starter following six years at boarding school but, like many, he enjoyed the best grounding with Jim Bolger, initially in the school holidays at a time when Christy Roche, Willie Supple, Seamus Heffernan, Paul Carberry and Tony McCoy were all there, not to mention Aidan O'Brien as stable amateur and assistant. His first winner was for Bolger on Nordic Pageant at Fairyhouse in 1992, and his last was Face For The Facts for John Gosden in a Listed race at Newmarket last September. Durcan is not retiring from racing, however, and while he will continue his close working relationship with Sir Michael Stoute he is looking to explore avenues in the bloodstock world.

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