HRI Review

Racing Review

Gordon Elliott And Jack Kennedy Land First Goffs Thyestes Chase

Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy combined to land yet another big handicap and their first Goffs Thyestes Chase with Monbeg Notorious at Gowran Park on Thursday. A gambled-on 7/2 favourite, the seven-year-old raced to an 11-length success over the Noel Meade-trained Wounded Warrior with his own stable companion Space Cadet in third place. Elliott got a second winner when the Declan Lavery-ridden Edene D’Arc won the bumper at odds of 14/1. Athenry, County Galway trainer Pat Kelly and Davy Russell won the Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle with 9/4 joint-favourite Presenting Percy which now leads the market for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Willie Mullins saddled two winners at his local course with the Paul Townend-ridden Scarpeta, the 13/8 favourite, winning the maiden hurdle and 4/1 chance Montalbano, with David Mullins in the saddle, taking the beginners’ chase. Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power were on the mark with 7/1 co-favourite of four horses Wings Like Arion in the 2m handicap hurdle. Peace N’ Milan won the 2m4f opportunity handicap hurdle for trainer Fran Flood and Cian Maher at odds of 10/1, giving the County Kildare jockey his first winner in Ireland. He had previously ridden two winners in Britain for trainer Evan Williams.

Dundalk Winner For Attheraces Guest Damian English

Damian English, a guest on the Attheraces ‘Get In’ programme, was among the winners at Dundalk on Friday night. The Naul, County Dublin trainer had a couple of placed horses on the card and rounded off the session when Bluesbreaker landed the second division of the 7f handicap in the hands of Rory Cleary at odds of 4/1. The opening leg of the same race went the way of 12/1 chance Three Majors which was ridden for Castleblaney, County Monaghan trainer Anthony McCann by Kevin Manning. Over the same distance Robbie Downey continued his fine form on the all-weather when landing the 7f fillies’ maiden on 33/1 chance Florista for trainer Ado McGuinness while Andy Oliver and Conor McGovern took the apprentice maiden with 4/1 shot The Phantom Punch. The opening 5f handicap was won by the Patrick Prendergast-trained 11/2 chance Brave Display and Chris Hayes. Billy Lee was in the saddle as Nimitz, the 11/4 favourite, finally came good in the 10f handicap for Charles O’Brien. Clear Skies, the 11/8 favourite, ran away with the 10f handicap for Aidan O'Brien and his son Donnacha and at the same price, Settle For Bay comfortably took the 8f handicap for David Marnane and Donagh O’Connor.  

Laurina Heading To Cheltenham Following Terrific Fairyhouse Display

Laurina was very much the star of the show at Fairyhouse on Saturday as she landed the Grade 3 Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle in great style. The mares’ novice hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March is the immediate target for Willie Mullins’ five-year-old which had little difficulty in adding to her Tramore maiden hurdle success. Sent off the 13/8 favourite, she won by 11 lengths under Paul Townend and could have scored by considerably more. Mullins and Townend began the day with a cosy success for 2/5 favourite Kemboy in the beginners’ chase. Also over fences, Philip Rothwell and Adam Shortt combined to win the 2m1f handicap chase with 10/1 chance Shrewdoperator while Dinnie’s Vinnie took advantage of the fall of the Rothwell-trained Rightback Atya to win the 3m1f handicap chase at odds of 7/2 for the father and son team of Philip and Luke Dempsey. The remaining races all went the way of County Meath trainers with Kells-based Tom Gibney first up when taking the 2m maiden hurdle with the 11/4 shot Play The Game under Andrew Lynch. Lynch was also in the saddle as Kilmessan trainer Matthew Smith saddled Maeve’s Choice, a 20/1 chance, to win the 2m4f maiden hurdle while Gordon Elliott and Chris Meehan won the opportunity handicap hurdle with 11/8 favourite Poormans Hill.

Mullins Dominates With Treble At New-Look Naas

Naas unveiled their new ‘Circle’ building on Sunday and on a huge day for the progressive racecourse Willie Mullins dominated with three winners. He shared them with Paul Townend and the pair struck first with 8/11 favourite Sayo which overcame trouble in running to win the maiden hurdle. Sandsend, an 11/4 chance, battled well to see off 9/4 favourite Forge Meadow in the Grade 3 Limestone Lad Hurdle while Ballyward looked to book his ticket to the Cheltenham Festival with a gutsy win over As You Were at odds of 9/10 favourite in the 2m3f maiden hurdle. Moulin A Vent won the Grade 3 Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase for Noel Meade and Sean Flanagan. The 7/2 chance ran on strongly from the final fence to overhaul the Gordon Elliott-trained Jury Duty. James Grace and Trevor Ryan took the 2m handicap hurdle with 7/1 chance Mick The Boyo and at the same odds, Katie Walsh partnered The Big Dog to win the bumper for Monasterevin trainer Peter Fahey. Wishmoor, a 7/2 chance, took the 2m4f novice handicap chase for Mouse Morris and Rachael Blackmore.

Racing News

Irish Racing Mourns Peter Casey

Peter Casey, one of the most colourful personalities in Irish racing and who trained Flemenstar to win three Grade 1s, passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning. He was 82. In 1991 Casey sent out Flinders Passage to win a Listed handicap hurdle at Galway, while Jack The Bus proved a real money-spinner over fences, winning the Troytown at Navan in 2010 and the Foxrock Handicap Chase at Leopardstown in 2012, but it was the fortunes of Flemenstar which propelled the proud Dubliner to the big time. During his novice season over fences in 2011/12, Flemenstar won five times and two of those were Grade 1s. He landed the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown and the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse while the following season he won the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown. Des Scahill was a lifelong friend of Casey and he believes that racing has said goodbye to one of the few remaining characters in the game. He said, "Racing is losing character after character and Peter was certainly one of the great characters of the game. People who saw his interview on RTE might have thought he would have been embarrassed by what he said but it was the complete opposite. He got tremendous mileage out of it. I was lucky enough to visit him recently and while his health might not have been great, he was still well able to hold his own in an argument, let me tell you! He truly was a great character and he will be missed by so many."

Irish Derby and Matron Stakes Ranked Best In The World in 2017

Two Irish Group 1 races have been rated as the best in the world in their categories in the 2017 Irish, European and World Thoroughbred Rankings released last week. The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby has been rated as the leading three-year-old race in the world and the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes is ranked as the world’s best fillies and mares’ race. At the Curragh in early July, Capri gave Aidan O’Brien his 12th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby. In a thrilling renewal, he edged out the John Gosden-trained Cracksman which went on to win the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, the Qatar Prix Niel at Chantilly and the Group 1 Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot while in third place was the Epsom Derby winner Wings Of Eagles. Capri completed a notable Classic double when adding the Doncaster St Leger where those in behind included Rekindling which was to become the first three-year-old since 1941 to win the Melbourne Cup for Joseph O'Brien in November. The Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes, one of the highlights of the opening day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown in September, also produced a race to remember with two top-class Ballydoyle fillies fighting out the finish. Only a head separated Hydrangea and Winter, and the end of year ratings sees the race declared the best fillies and mares’ race in the world. A remarkably consistent filly, Hydrangea rounded off her season with a decisive success in the Group 1 Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot. Winter was the leading contributor to Aidan O'Brien’s record haul of Group/Grade 1 success in 2017 with four Group 1 wins. The form of the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes was further strengthened when the third-placed Persuasive ended her year with victory in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

Road To Respect Heads Meade Team For Dublin Racing Festival

Noel Meade says the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the ultimate aim for his progressive staying chase star Road To Respect but is quietly confident the Gigginstown-owned gelding can run a big race in Sunday's Unibet Irish Gold Cup, one of the feature races of the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown. Meade said: “The number one aim for Road To Respect is the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but he's being trained for the Unibet Irish Gold Cup and will go there as long as the ground doesn’t come up heavy. He's in great shape.” On the rest of his team that are Leopardstown bound, Meade said: “The other horse that I’d hope will go to Leopardstown with a big chance is Snow Falcon. He'll run in the Flogas Novice Chase. He did it well there the last day and he jumps fences a lot better than he did hurdles. Apache Stronghold will run in the Chanelle Pharma Handicap Chase because I think he has dropped to a mark that is fair, and Ice Cold Soul could go back for the Coral Hurdle that he won last year. De Name Escapes Me might run in that as well. It’s possible that he's a better horse than he has shown but he has to go and do it.”

Nominations Continue For 2018 Irish Godolphin Stud And Stable Staff Awards

Nominations are now open for the 2018 Irish Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards and can be made online at www.studandstablestaffawards.ie. The awards encompass 10 categories, which carry total prizemoney of €84,000, an increase of €4,500 from 2017. The 2018 awards will take place in the Knightsbrook Hotel in Trim, County Meath on Monday, May 21st. The Racing and Breeding Support Services Award now allows for three finalists, with a trophy and €5,000 for the winner. The two runners-up will each receive €1,000. In addition to nominating online, every trainer, breeder and point-to-point handler has received a nomination form by post. Nomination forms are also available from Horse Racing Ireland’s head office in Ballymany in Newbridge. Bernard Caldwell from the Irish Stablestaff Association (ISSA) and his colleagues will be distributing nomination forms at all race meetings. The nomination form is also available to download from the website. Nominations are open until Monday, February 19th and must be completed online or returned to the Marketing Department in Horse Racing Ireland by 5pm that day.

Naas Racecourse Unveils New Feature Building

Naas racecourse unveiled its new feature building ahead of their final January meeting on Sunday. The new building is the principal phase of an overall redevelopment at Naas racecourse, worth €3.2million, which is partly funded by the Horse Racing Ireland Racecourse Capital Development Scheme. The innovative cylindrical design, located between the parade ring and grandstand, allows for greater vantage points for the general racing public and owners and trainers. The ground floor of the building, ‘The Circle Bar’ is a sports bar open to all racegoers and the owners and trainers lounge is located on the first floor, with 180-degree views of the track. 

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