Weekend Takeaways from the Punchestown Festival and the first winner at new Curragh

Tuesday, May 07, 2019
Manomine and Kate Kelly wins the Have The Conversation - Say Yes To Organ Donation Charity Race. Punchestown Festival. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post 04.05.2019

Manomine and Kate Kelly wins the Have The Conversation - Say Yes To Organ Donation Charity Race. Punchestown Festival. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post 04.05.2019

The first winner at New Curragh

Sunday Sovereign may prove to have a stellar career, or he may not, but he will always be the answer to a popular quiz question around Kildare and Newbridge in years to come.

Who won the first race run at the newly renovated Curragh Racecourse?

The Paddy Twomey-trained juvenile was a three-length victor of the Coolmore Sioux Nation Irish EBF Maiden, giving the Sunday Racing Club a warm memory of their debut at the glitzy new headquarters of Irish Flat racing.

It was a good day too for Limerick jockey Billy Lee, who was on board Sunday Sovereign for the first leg of a brilliant treble.

Lee propelled the Godolphin-owned, Willie McCreery-trained Ickworth to a comfortable triumph in the Listed First Flier Stakes and completed his tally with a power-packed effort on board Veryhoyen for conditioner Michael Grassick and owners Paul Cullen, E J Dwyer, Patrick Pearse and former Horse Racing Ireland chairman, Joe Keeling.

It was notable that Lee’s winners were provided by three different trainers, and that his six rides on the day were for five handlers in total. This is a man in demand who has brought his tally for the nascent season to 11, placing him in joint four on the jockeys’ table.

Ken Condon is the leading contributor to that tally so far with three, while Twomey and McCreery have supplied a pair each. The others have come courtesy of Grassick, Ray Hackett, Conor O’Dwyer and John Kiely. 

Sheehy doubles up

Danny Sheehy has caught the eye of any half-alert follower of the Flat scene since marking his debut season as a jockey at 16 with five winners for the calendar year. Since then, the son of Kilkenny trainer Eamonn ‘Dusty’ Sheehy has gone from strength to strength to register tallies of 14 and 16.

On Sunday, he bagged a double at Gowran Park, which brings him to four for the calendar year and three for the Turf campaign.

The first arrived in the Honda Mowers & Quads At Murphy Machinery Kilkenny Apprentice Handicap on the cleverly-named Insane Bolt for Fitzwiliam Racing 2018 and trainer Johnny Murtagh. Having joined the Murtagh team at the beginning of the year, it was important to get off the mark for the former champion jockey.

Lady Scathach defied a price of 33/1 to record an effortless success in the second division of the Lengthen The Odds With BetVictor Handicap for trainer Tom McCourt, who is enjoying a nice run at present, and owner Ciara McGee.


Wexford dominate charity race

The Punchestown Kidney Research Donation Charity Race was run for the 30th time on Saturday and the continuing influence of Wexford as a force in Irish racing was emphasised with a one-two-three for Model County riders.

Kate Kelly was victorious on the Keith Watson-trained 10-year-old Manomine, who had a length and three-quarters to spare over Red Barry on Gordon Elliott’s four-year-old Flat To The Max, with Emma Walsh on the Joseph O’Brien-trained seven-year-old Thermistocles six and a half lengths further back.

Kelly is not to be mistaken with the Wexford camogie legend of the same name, though she is a talented player with the Blackwater club. Formerly a member of Noel Meade’s team at Tu Va Stables, Kelly is now riding out for point-to-point producer Denis Murphy.

Barry is well known in GAA circles too as a footballer and hurler with Wexford and St Anne’s. A regular competitor in this annual fundraiser, it was evident he retains the fitness and athleticism that made him a household name.

Emma Walsh’s Gaelic games profile is unclear as of now but we saw enough as another hugely successful Punchestown Festival came to a close on Saturday to tell us that she is a very sound horsewoman.

Congratulations to all the riders, who undoubtedly fulfilled a lifetime’s dream and in the process, raised vital funds to help improve the health and lifestyle of patients with kidney disease.

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