HRI Racing

Racing Review

Dundalk Double For Chris Hayes

Chris Hayes moved to within three of riding a century of winners on the all-weather at Dundalk with a double at the track on Friday night. He landed the 12f handicap on the Noel Kelly-trained 7/1 chance Wooster and followed up an hour later on the Richard O’Brien-trained Indian Tomahawk, a 5/1 shot, in the opening division of the 10f handicap. The second division of the same race went to Killala, County Mayo trainer Fergal Birrane who saddled 11/4 favourite California Lad to win under Denis Linehan. It was a good night for apprentice jockeys and Sean Davis teamed up with Sheila Lavery to take the 5f handicap with 12/1 chance Flawlessly. Conor McGovern is on a roll and he took the 8f handicap on the Pat Martin-trained Lady Rosebud at odds of 9/1. Ross Coakley is another youngster going well and he rode another winner for Curragh trainer Michael Halford when taking the 7f rated race on 100/30 favourite Invincible Ryker. Sean Corby was another claimer to visit the winners’ enclosure and his success came on the Joseph O'Brien-trained 3/1 chance Zaofu in the 10f maiden. 

Smokey Joe Joe Makes Up For Christmas Disappointment

The Stephen Mahon-trained Smokey Joe Joe, arguably an unlucky loser when falling two fences from home at Limerick over Christmas, ran out the easiest of winners in the 2m4f handicap chase at Cork on Saturday. Ridden by Denis O'Regan, the 9/1 chance eased clear from the final fence to win as he liked for the Kilcolgan, County Galway trainer. Willie Mullins sent out two winners with Paul Townend making all the running on 4/7 favourite Livelovelaugh in the beginners’ chase and Patrick Mullins winning the bumper on 4/6 favourite Squadron Commander. Chatham Street Lad landed a gamble for trainer Michael Winters when readily winning the rated novice hurdle under Luke Dempsey. Available at double-figure odds over night, the six-year-old was backed from 7/2 to 15/8 favourite on-course. Another popular winner among punters was 11/4 chance Guided By You which won the 3m maiden hurdle for Noel Meade and Jonathan Moore. The Gordon Elliott-trained 6/1 chance Schindlers Ark, ridden by Jack Kennedy, was awarded the 2m maiden hurdle in the stewards’ room. He lost out by a head to Galtymore but was badly impeded on the run from the last and a reversal of the placings was always on the cards. Charles Byrnes recorded a 1-2 in the 2m4f handicap hurdle with the Mark Enright-ridden Lite Duties, a 25/1 chance, getting the better of 10/1 shot Indian Monsoon. 

Big Festivals On The Cards For Next Destination

The Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in early February and the Cheltenham Festival in March are targets for the Willie Mullins-trained Next Destination which won the first Grade 1 of 2018 at Naas on Sunday. With Paul Townend in the saddle, the 8/15 favourite was pushed all the way to the line by Gordon Elliott’s Cracking Smart in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle to give Mullins his fourth win in the race in the last five years. The champion trainer had earlier won the novice chase with 11/10 favourite Demi Sang which was making a successful Irish debut under Barry Geraghty. Mullins completed a treble and Paul Townend got a second winner when 1/3 favourite Asthuria won the beginners’ chase in great style. Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power took the opening maiden hurdle with 4/1 chance Another Barney while 5/1 chance Blue Empyrean came from off the pace under Andrew Ring to land the handicap chase for trainer Keith Watson. The 2m handicap hurdle went to the James Grace-trained Mick The Boyo, another 5/1 chance which was giving Trevor Ryan his first winner in Ireland. Alan Fleming and Mark O’Hare sent punters home happy when taking the bumper with 6/4 favourite Epsanito Bello. 

Racing News

Cheltenham Festival Winning Trainer Christy Roche Relinquishes Licence

Three-time Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer Christy Roche has retired from training at the age of 68. Roche's first success at Cheltenham arrived in 1999 when he sent out Khayrawani to win the Coral Cup. Like-A-Butterfly was the Irish banker at the 2002 festival and duly justified 7-4 favouritism in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle under Charlie Swan, while Youlneverwalkalone landed the William Hill Handicap Chase in 2003. All three were owned by JP McManus. Like-A-Butterfly won 12 of her 17 starts, including five Grade 1s, but perhaps Roche will be remembered most in the training ranks for his work with the ultra-versatile Grimes, which won the Galway Plate in 2001 having won the Grade 1 juvenile hurdle at the Punchestown festival in 1997. He also trained the hugely-talented Joe Mac, which was second to Hors La Loi III in the 1999 Supreme Novices' Hurdle. Roche will be best known for his exploits in the saddle as he forged a terrific relationship with Aidan O'Brien and was champion Flat jockey in Ireland on seven occasions during a riding career which spanned almost three decades. Roche won the Irish Derby three times, the Irish 2,000 Guineas on four occasions and was a three-time winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas. His last winner as a trainer was Out Of The Loop in a 2m4f handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse on December 2. Roche has handed his training licence over to his son, Padraig, who could have his first runners in his own name next month.

Cromwell Lands Welsh National With The Veteran Raz De Maree

County Meath trainer Gavin Cromwell enjoyed the biggest success of his training career when sending out Raz De Maree to win the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow on Saturday at odds of 16-1. Raz De Maree, now a 13-year-old, was runner up in the race in 2016 when only finding Native River too good and he went one place better under teenage jockey James Bowen. Raz De Maree is only three years younger than his talented jockey and the pair teamed up to great effect, staying on strongly to record a six-length victory over Alfie Spinner with Final Nudge third and Vintage Clouds fourth. Raz De Maree is not the retiring kind and less than 24 hours after winning the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow, Gavin Cromwell reported his sprightly teenager to be showing his usual signs of wellbeing back at his base in County Meath. “I was out taking videos of him this [Sunday] morning for Facebook and Twitter and he was in brilliant form, bucking and farting out in the field,” Cromwell said. “He came out of the race in great spirits and we couldn't be happier with him.” The gallant 13-year-old proved age is no barrier to success in becoming the joint-oldest winner of the race. Cromwell is weighing up options for Raz De Maree and says the Irish and English Nationals, as well as the Midlands version, will come under serious consideration.

29 Stud Farms Now Confirmed For 2018 ITM Irish Stallion Trail

The fourth running of the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Irish Stallion Trail will take place around the country next Friday and Saturday, January 12 and 13. The number of stallion farms set to open their doors to the public has grown to 29, with some of the top stallions in the world on show over the two days. Last year, eight of the top ten sires in Europe by winners stood in Ireland, and visitors will have a chance to see many of these greats up close, as well as view their leading National Hunt counterparts. This is also an opportunity to meet a number of racing heroes, including champion racehorse Sea The Stars (IRE), four-time Ascot Gold Cup hero Yeats (IRE) and top-class Breeders Cup hero Kalanisi (IRE). Following a record attendance of almost 3,000 in 2017, it is advisable to register as soon as possible. The up-dated list of participating stud farms and registration is available at www.itm.ie/stalliontrail. 

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