J.J. returns in style
Slevin triumphs for Fogarty in Thurles
J.J. Slevin from Kiltrea, Enniscorthy, returned from injury at Thurles on Thursday to score on a 12/1 shot in the handicap hurdle, a race that featured the Fogarty brothers from Cleariestown in the finish. There were two other Wexford-connected winners on the card.
Slevin is having a good season despite some injury interruptions. He suffered fractured ribs and a bruised kidney in a Gowran fall just two and a half weeks before his Thurles return - jumps jockeys are tough men! He was unlucky not to claim the €100,000 Ladbrokes Leinster National at Naas on Sunday.
At Thurles, J.J. was aboard Cool Craft, trained by Jonathan Fogarty and owned by Donal Doyle, and he took up the running approaching the last and held on to win by three parts of a length from Robbie Colgan on The Church Gate.
In third place, five lengths further back, was Jonathan Fogarty's brother, Mikey, on the 9/4 favourite, Rock on Barney, for Galway trainer, G.T. Lynch. A delighted Slevin said afterwards: 'It's brilliant, it's grand to be back. He came home well…he had loads left at the finish'.
Seán Flanagan and Noel Meade kept up their good run with victory for Ain't Dunne Yet (7/4f) in the 18-runner maiden hurdle, coming home well clear of Davy Russell on Three Kings. It was a good day overall for Flanagan as he got a second and two thirds from his other rides.
Sue Bramall, based now at Kilbranish, Bunclody, trained her own Diamond Cauchois (12/1) to score by twelve lengths under Andrew Ring in the €16,000 handicap hurdle, her first winner of a quiet season in which she has had just eight runners. The horse obviously likes the Thurles track as he had won there on his Irish debut 14 months ago.
There was quite a big Wexford contingent at Gowran Park on Saturday but made little impact.
J.J. Slevin nearly put the icing on his comeback with a great ride in the 18-runner Leinster National. He was on Folsom Blue (12/1) for Mouse Morris and Gigginstown and finished second less than two lengths behind Abolitionist (12/1) under Rachael Blackmore.
Just as the winner was making his move at the third last, Folsom Blue made a shuddering mistake that halted his momentum; however, Slevin gathered him together and conjured a great effort that just failed. Without the error, he would surely have won it.
Earlier Slevin had finished third in the Martinstown Opportunity maiden hurdle on Liz Doyle's Bosco Di Alco.
The most significant and prestigious race of the week in Britain was the £70,000 Imperial Cup hurdle at Sandown on Saturday, and an exciting finish was fought out by two Wexford jockeys, with victory going to Tom O'Brien on a 10/1 shot over Daryl Jacob.
O'Brien took it up after the last on Ian Williams' London Prize and he drove him out to the line and, despite edging right, he held out by a length from Jacob on Nicky Henderson's 5/1 favourite, Fixe Le Kap.
In a week overshadowed by the looming Cheltenham Festival, the Wexford riders had a quiet time. On Thursday, Jacob had to wait until the last at Wincanton to register an easy win on Lalor (13/8f) in the bumper.
On the all-weather at Newcastle, Pat McDonald pulled off a bit of gamble for Rebecca Bastiman on Jaywalker (backed from 18s in the morning into 8/1), holding on by half a length on his only ride of the evening. He had a single ride on Spinwheel for Mark Johnstown at Wolverhampton on Saturday, but had no luck.