Jockey Moore rules De Roost
Eight-race card well attended in ideal weather conditions
Friday evening's well-sponsored, eight-race National Hunt card at Bettyville drew large fields and was well attended in lovely weather conditions. Although local success was limited, it was one of the most enjoyable occasions at the Wexford track this season.
Adamstown jockey Jonathan Moore was the only Wexford winner, with a hard-earned success in an exciting finish to the two and a half mile handicap chase. There were second place finishes for jockeys J.J. Slevin (Kiltrea, Caim), Seán Flanagan (Palace East) and Barry O'Neill (Kiltealy), and trainers Seán Doyle (Ballindaggin) and Richie Rath (Screen).
Moore has struck up a good relationship with trainer Tom Gibney from Trim, Co. Meath, and they combined to win the Michael Moore Mercedes Benz And Volkswagen-sponsored handicap chase with a very game Robin De Roost (backed from 10/1 in the morning to start at 11/2 joint favourite).
Moore was in contention most of the way but Robin De Roost seemed under more pressure than some of his rivals turning into the straight and looked like he might be swallowed up.
But the horse kept responding under a forceful Moore drive and held on by a neck from the persistent Shake the Bucket (11/2) for the Maddens, with Roevin Star (6/1, a winner over three miles at Wexford on June 17) third for Brian O'Connell and trainer Eoin Doyle a little over two lengths back.
The first two were popular with the punters and there was an anxious wait as the stewards took quite a while to enquire into the finish where they came quite close together, but the interference was minor and the result was left unchanged. Galway may be on the agenda after this.
Gracemount, trained by Seán Thomas Doyle and ridden by J.J. Slevin for owner J.J. Kavanagh, was strongly fancied in the opening two miles mares' maiden hurdle, being backed into a shortening 11/8 favouritism.
They were bang in contention at the last but could not match Chestnut Brave (7/2), ridden by Brian O'Connell for Shay Barry, on the run-in, going down by three lengths.
Bold Sky (8/1) was well back in third under Andrew Lynch for Henry De Bromhead.
Lucca Lady, trained by Richie Rath in Screen and ridden by champion point-to-point jockey Barry O'Neill, was well fancied in the Michael Moore Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen bumper, backed from a morning price of 20/1 into 7/1.
She ran quite well to finish second, but caught a tartar in the Willie Mullins-trained Smooth River (11/4 f), ridden by Declan Lavery. This one romped clear from the start and won by 14 lengths and seemed to have lots in hand. This was Smooth River's debut for the Mullins yard and may be worth keeping an eye out for.
This also completed a double for the champion trainer, as his Rathvinden (6/4f) was a smooth and impressive winner by twelve lengths of the Stena Line Horizon Beginners' chase.
This was Ruby Walsh's only ride of the night and he never had a moment's worry. Seán Flanagan was second on Fly Rory Fly ((10/1) for Noel Meade, edging out Maser Appeal (4/1), under Paul Townend for John Kiely.
Mullins has been very patient with this one and it could be another worth noting. This was the horse's first win for three and a half years, having been good enough to finish third to the great Faugheen in the Neptune Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2014. He was off the track for two and a half years but ran quite well at Ballinrobe in May.
You won't see many Rich Ricci/Willie Mullins horses running at Wexford, and I was wondering why Paul Townend and not Ruby Walsh was riding Dicosimo (9/1) in the featured €15,000 Brendan Cullimore Electric Novice Chase.
They tried to make all but were caught by Peregrine Run (5/4f) in the closing stages as Roger Loughran asserted on Peter Fahey's impressive charge.
This one won a Grade 2 novice hurdle a Cheltenham last November; he has taken well to the fences and this was his second chase win at successive Wexford meetings. He may be worth watching out for the Galway festival.
It was a special night for trainer Edmond Linehan from Mallow in Cork as he trained his first winner over jumps, his Kens Well (11/4jf) taking the Stena Line Europe maiden hurdle under Danny Mullins.
He had four lengths to spare over David Mullins on Get Smart (20/1), trained by Margaret Mullins.
There was a big entry for the Mary Barry's Seafood Bar (Kilmore) handicap hurdle and it was split into two divisions, with a full field of 14 in both. Division 1 went to trainer/rider Denis Hogan from Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary, with Nulife (9/1), one and a half lengths ahead of Seán Flanagan on Omega Spings (13/2) for Liam Casey from Clonmel.
Division 2 was won by twelve lengths by Rathnaleen Girl (10/1), ridden by Andrew Ring for Philip Byrne from Birr. This was not winning out of turn as it had been placed just once in 13 outings.
Denis Hogan, going for a double, was second with Mezajy (9/2) and young James O'Sullivan from Enniscorthy was third on Philip Rothwell's (Tinahely) Baron Von Chill (20/1).
Alec Scallan and his wife, Susie, were on hand to make the presentations on behalf of Mary Barry's Seafood Bar.
The next meeting at Bettyville on Friday, July 28, is one of the social highlights of the season as it features the Most Stylish Ladies competition for great prizes from Liam Griffin's Monart Spa.
The racing will be well worth watching too!