Byrnes coup beats bookies
Russell rides three winners
The main talking point of the racing week had to be the Charles Byrnes-trained coup at Roscommon on Tuesday night when Davy Russell steered home three winners for him that had been backed in from big early morning prices.
War Anthem (16/1 into 6/1), Mr. Smith (14/1 into 7/4 favourite) and Top of the Town (16/1 into 5/4 favourite) all won handily enough despite fairly dire previous form. Those on the treble at the best early prices could have got anything from 3,000 to 4,000 to 1!
There was speculation that the bookies may have lost millions in the coup though this may have been a bit exaggerated. However, there is no doubt that a lot of money was won and this coup will be mentioned in future in the same breath as the legendary Barney Curley-staged efforts.
There was not much sympathy for the bookies and most punters will have been cheering on Byrnes and Russell as Tuesday night unfolded, even if they were not 'on' themselves.
However, I have some reservations: many wondered if the horses involved in these coups had been run up to their best in their previous abysmal efforts, and what about the punters who had backed them to win on those occasions?
Trainer Byrnes was called in by the Roscommon stewards to explain the apparent sudden improvement in the form of War Anthem and Mr. Smith. He gave quite detailed evidence about the horses' previous runs and the rides given to them.
These and other factors, combined with the fact that his horses had been out of form but showed signs of improvement in recent work-outs, had all contributed to the improvement shown.
The stewards noted the explanations offered and took no further action. Can anyone remember the last time action was taken where unusual or abnormal improvement had taken place?
Some recent efforts to clamp down on alleged 'non-trying' and use of the course as a training ground have caused controversy and strong resistance.
The poor old punter can find it very difficult to work out the form of most races; if you also have to work out which horses are actually trying to win, then what real chance have you?
Far too often that's the situation in Ireland and the ordinary punter, without the benefit of 'inside' information won't often gain from the big coups.
Aidan O'Brien opened the week with a hat-trick at Naas on Bank Holiday Monday with Leo Minor (7/4), Etched (5/2), and Whitecliffsofdover (1/1). Aidan also won the Group 3 feature at Cork on Tuesday, his 12/1 outsider Best in the World, ridden by Colm O'Donoghue, getting the better of more fancied stablemate, Somehow (7/2).
O'Brien ended the week with another big hat-trick at the Curragh on Sunday with Carravaggio confirming his class in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes, O'Brien's 14th win in this race; Utah and Hydrangea also won for the Ballydoyle Maestro.
For the second time in recent weeks Jim Bolger had four winners on the Thursday night Leopardstown card, including the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes with Stellar Mass (7/2). Kevin Manning was on that and he also rode Laoch na Mi (5/4) and Lightning Bullet 5/1), while young Danny Redmond won the apprentice race with McGuigan (13/2). Bolger went within inches of a five-timer as Intense Stylist (6/1) was only beaten a head in the opener.
Jockey Seán Flanagan and trainer Liz Doyle from Crossabeg combined for a very easy win for Emma Beag (2/1) for the Tintern Ten syndicate in the maiden hurdle at Sligo, and Doyle had another win in the bumper at Kilbeggan on Saturday night when Finny Maguire got home on 6/5 favourite Burrows Lane, which was certainly due this after three seconds.
The Wexford jockeys in Britain continued to make their mark, especially Pat McDonald from Monastery Avenue, Taghmon, who had six winners. He scored a 20/1 shock on Beadlam at Catterick on Tuesday, he had a double on Wednesday at Pontefract with British Embassy (10/3) and Ralphy Boy (11/4), and at Redcar on Saturday he had a very good priced treble, winning on Pointilism (13/2), Cymraeg Bounty (7/1) and Scruffy Mcguffy (7/1), while a short head denied him a four-timer in the last race on Next Edition (10/1).
Pat Dobbs (Enniscorthy) won the £40,000 feature at Newmarket on Saturday for his boss, Richard Hannon, with a well-judged front-running ride on National Alexander (4/1), and Jimmy Quinn (New Ross) was an easy winner on Rock Icon (7/2) at Lingfield.
This week's racing in Ireland: Wednesday, Gowran Park; Thursday, Leopardstown; Thursday to Sunday, Tramore festival; Sunday, Dundalk; Monday, August 15, Roscommon.