Big Weekend: Plenty of racing to look forward to Naas, Dundalk and Tramore

Friday, April 12, 2019
Big Weekend April 12th

Miracle man Mikey’s mission

The name might sound familiar because MikeY Sweeney is the jockey who made one of the greatest recoveries you’ll ever see at Killeagh Point-To-Point in Boulta last January.

In isolation, the feat of getting back in the saddle after having his back facing the ground while hanging on to Ask Heather’s neck following a mistake at the last fence was remarkable. To galvanise his partner and elicit a winning run, having been overtaken, was miraculous.

Rising trainer Declan Queally – himself still riding to very good effect – has been using the 21-year-old Cappoquin pilot regularly between the flags and he provided him with his first winner under Rules when Bothar Dubh prevailed in a handicap hurdle at Clonmel in February.

Sweeney has only had eight rides on the track but he will have increased that by 25 per cent by the conclusion of the Tramore fixture on Sunday evening, partnering Owenacurra Lass for Queally in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (2.15) and That’s My Dubai for Shay Barry in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares’ Flat Race (5.35) at Tramore.

Both have chances of providing a distinct Waterford flavour to proceedings by the beach, Owenacurra Lass a former bumper winner who was in strong company last time when third behind Annamix and Raya Time, albeit far in their rear view mirrors.

That’s My Dubai has the Mullins boys, Willie and Paddy to contend with but Stops A Nation is unraced, while That’s My Dubai has been second twice from three previous runs.

Neither will be found wanting for help from the saddle.


Independent stallions take on the big shots

The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden at Naas on Sunday is interesting for a couple of reasons. Ruby Walsh doubles his tally of flat rides for the season, renewing acquaintances with Castletownshend for his father Ted, after they had teamed up for a third-place finish at the same venue three weeks ago.

It is interesting to see stallions represented that are the only stallion standing at their farms.

Finsceal Fior has been mentioned here before, the first foal of Finsceal Beo who was introduced to new duties by Michael Ryan – owner of Finsceal Beo and Al Eile - after being going unraced due to injury. The nine-year-old was the product of a holy alliance with the dual 1000 Guineas winner and the record-breaking Galileo, so it was no surprise that with such a bloodline, Ryan would put him to work in another way, if you could call it work.

Now nine and standing at Green Hills Stud, he had his first winner in 2016 thanks to Annie Fior in a Chelmsford maiden. Annie Fior is now back in Ireland and she provided Brendan Murphy with his first winner as a trainer at Leopardstown last Saturday, before following up with another at Gowran Park on Tuesday.  

Rajj is older at 16. He was out of a Sadler’s Wells mare Makarova, and by Danehill, but once more, injury prevented him from making it to the track. So his trainer Homer Scott – a dual Cheltenham Festival-winning handler – opted to see if he could garner support for Rajj as a stallion at Lisheen Stud.

It wasn’t easy but the endeavours have been paying dividends in recent years, most notably with Group 3 winner I’m So Fancy and Inshayshable, also a four-time victor.

Finsceal Fior is represented by the Gavin Cromwell-trained Finsceal Rose in this contest, Rajj by My Laureate, who is trained by Ger Lyons. With progeny of War Front, Dark Angel, Kodiac and Exceed And Excel opposing, the odds are against them. But then that is one of the enduring attractions of horse racing – the odds can sometimes be overturned.


Slatterys’ Sharjah to do Dundalk dance once more

There are a number of horses that thrive in the all-weather at Dundalk and Sharjah is one. Not to be mistaken with Willie Mullins’s Grade 1-winning hurdler, the nine-year-old is a Slattery family pet as well as a Dundalk specialist.

Trained by Andy, the Shamardal gelding has won 15 times in total, with nine of those coming on the polytrack. In December 2017, he provided Andy’s son Andrew with his first winner as a jockey and the pair have combined for two more triumphs since, most recently at Fairyhouse last July.

They were agonisingly close to moving into double figures at Dundalk last Friday night, when beaten a nose by Wild Shot but are back in Louth on Sunday evening, where a real opportunity presents itself in the LMFM Dual Race Night Friday 3rd May Handicap (5.20), though War Shot reopposes.

But Dundalk is where Sharjah likes to dance.

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