There was no doubting the most visually
impressive performance over the weekend in Ireland. That honour clearly went to
the Stuart Robinson-owned George Cornelius, who blitzed a seven-runner field in
the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Median Auction Maiden at Dundalk, winning by 10
Mark Gallagher, who has enjoyed a wonderful
start to the season, was in the plate but has had a role in the Rathasker
Stud-bred juvenile’s progress for a longer duration, having bought the son of
Bungle Inthejungle with Danny Murphy at Goffs last October for €29,000.
Winning trainer, Kieran Cotter revealed
afterwards that this was Robinson’s first runner ever, and that the owner had a
number of other nice horses with him too. Cotter also divulged that while
George Cornelius went off at 14/1, connections had been emboldened enough by
his homework to back him.
This was Cotter’s first win of the year,
from just his fifth runner. Last year was his best as a trainer, with five
victories from just 41 runners and three that finished second as well. He has
grown his string this year and is optimistic about what lies ahead.
Gallagher, brother of former Champion
Hurdle-winning rider Dean, has ridden all over the world but is back home now
and after riding five winners last year is already on four for the current
calendar term, all of which have come in the last three weeks.
If George Cornelius is not bought out of
the yard, the trio may have found a horse to take them higher. Remember, over
jumps, City Island was a Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Novice Hurdle
winner, en route to Supreme Novices’ Hurdle glory. In racing, nothing is
HRI chair’s Snossyboots grassroots day
Also at Dundalk, the ultra-consistent Miss
Snossyboots made it two wins on the bounce when garnering the Recruit Island
Handicap with a well-timed run by jockey Ronan Whelan to see off Poitin.
The five-year-old Rip Van Winkle filly has
only been outside the top four twice in 12 runs and having not raced until she
was three, appears to be still improving under the astute guidance of Michael
That is good news for owner-breeder Nicky
Hartery, whose grassroots involvement in racing was well established by the
time he became chairman of Horse Racing Ireland last year. Hartery bred Miss
Snossyboots from his Pivotal mare, Nick’s Nikita, triumphant in the Group 3
Noblesse Stakes when also conditioned by Halford, in 2007.
Ton up for Carmichael
Flash Gordon certainly left an impression
with the manner in which he quickly put the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden to
bed at Naas on Saturday. Bred by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud, who
as we know are associated primarily with owning big staying chasers, this son
of Kodiac is actually a very imposing type who didn’t race as a juvenile.
This was owner Fiona Carmichael’s 100th
winner around the world since becoming involved in racing in 2011, Toronado,
Havana Gold and Ivawood just some of the high-class operators the Jersey-based
woman has been involved in before.
Amanda Skiffington is charged with acquiring
Carmichael’s stock and she forked out £220,000 for Flash Gordon at Tattersalls
UK from Eddie O’Leary’s Lynn Lodge Stud in October 2017.
Given trainer Jessica Harrington was denied
in the Aintree Grand National with Magic Of Light by Gigginstown’s Tiger Roll,
maybe there is something fair in Michael and Eddie O’Leary being responsible
for a potentially high-class operator in her yard. And maybe even Gordon
Elliott, Tiger Roll’s trainer, could accept being second in this contest to
him, with Clashaniska. Though given his hunger for winners, maybe not!