Landmark week for the two Macs
Robie gets his rewards
The good news story in racing this week was all about Robbie McNamara who made a triumphant return to the track in his new capacity as a trainer just 15 months after he suffered very serious spinal injuries in a fall from a horse called Burlesdon at Wexford races in April, 2015, which ended his riding career and left him confined to a wheelchair, with no movement from the waist down.
A member of a famous Limerick racing family, Robbie has impressed everyone by the positive and inspirational way in which he has handled his misfortune as he battled to recover, and he took out his training licence in May.
He sent out his first runners in Cork on Friday evening and recorded a first and last race double to give him a dream start to his new career. His first-ever runner was Chadic in the opening Mallow Maiden Hurdle and he won at 12/1 under Connor Brassil.
He completed the double in the bumper with the well-backed Rathcannon (11/4), ridden by Finny Maguire, son of former top jockey, Adrian.
To make the first victory even sweeter, the horse was owned by Dr. Ronan Lambe for whom Robbie had ridden many winners over the years. He has supplied the new trainer with six of the 19 horses he has in his new Kildare yard, and it is safe to expect more wins to follow. Everyone in Wexford racing will wish him well.
Meanwhile, P.J. McDonald from Monastery Avenue in Taghmon has been enjoying a successful riding career in the north of England since he went over to team up with fellow Wexfordman, trainer Ferdy Murphy, as a young man in 2005, switching to the flat shortly after winning the Scottish Grand National in 2007.
He is consistently among the winners with 69 last year, and his seasonal best was 76 in 2010. He won at Catterick on Wednesday on Baron Bolt for Paul Cole and scored a very nice double at York on Friday on Yorkidding at 9/1 for Mark Johnston and Rainbow Mist at 7/2 for Anne Duffield.
By my reckoning these were winners number 499, 500 and 501 for his time in England - a really noteworthy landmark.
Wexford trainer Jim Bolger and his jockey (and son-in-law) Kevin Manning pulled off a notable four-timer at Leopardstown on Thursday evening by combining to win the first four races on the card - Radio Silence (9/10), Cirin Toinne (12/1), Bronntide (16/1) and Qutari Hunter (2/1). I reckon a €1 accumulator would pay something like €800 - very nice if you can get it!
Aidan O'Brien is hitting his stride now and his big winners in the past few days included three at the Newmarket July meeting - Housesofparliament, Alice Springs (first time for O'Brien to win the Falmouth Stakes) and Roly Poly in the Cherry Hinton, all under Ryan Moore. For good measure, he won the Belmont Derby in America on Saturday night with Jamie Spencer on Deauville at 7/2.
Trainer Colin Bowe from Kiltealy sent out Havana Dancer to win at Sligo on Sunday at 3/1, under Adrian Heskin; they had finished third at the last meeting in Wexford and were following up a win at Roscommon on June 14.
Irish race meetings this week: Killarney for four days from Monday; Dundalk (Tuesday), Downpatrick (Wednesday), Leopardstown (Thursday), Kilbeggan (Friday), Curragh Oaks meeting (Saturday and Sunday), Tipperary (Sunday), Ballinrobe (Monday and Tuesday, July 18 and 19).