Local jockeys win two races
Moore and Flanagan happy
Wexford's two-day race meeting at Bettyville kicked off with a seven-race National Hunt card on Friday evening that provided some exciting finishes, and two winners ridden by Wexford jockeys, one of them also trained and owned locally. The standard of fare on offer was average but competitive and quite entertaining.
This was followed the next afternoon by one of the most successful Saturday meetings for a long time. The Monart Ladies' Day flat meeting on a sun-blessed day did not produce much local success but it was notable for it being the first time the flat horses raced left handed (anti-clockwise) at the venue (see report below).
The big Wexford story on Friday came in race two, the Tintern Abbey handicap hurdle over two miles and four furlongs, when Hurry Kitty was a ready winner for young Adamstown seven-pound claimer, Jonathan Moore, and trainer Liz Doyle from Crossabeg. The delighted owners were a syndicate of Matty Murphy and family from Ferns. Available at 16/1 in the morning, Kitty was returned at 6/1, and connections obviously expected a big run.
The winner had over five lengths to spare on Northern Ireland visitor Cousin Bill, 11/4 favourite for the McParlan family, with the well-supported Presenting Mahler in third.
The first race, a two-mile maiden hurdle, produced a win for Clonroche rider Seán Flanagan on 16/1 outsider, Theatre Sunset, trained by David Harry Kelly. In a pulsating finish, he edged out 11/4 favourite, Hard Fought, and Mark Enright by a neck, with Mikey Fogarty from Cleariestown third on Silverpockets (5/1). This was a deserved win for Flanagan who did not enjoy the best of luck at the last Wexford meeting.
It was a night to remember for trainer Kelly from Fethard in Tipperary; he completed a first and last race double which would have paid over 200 to 1 with another outsider in the final bumper. Pa King drove out 12/1 shot, Isn't Dat Right, to hold Pearl Diamond from the powerful Willie and Patrick Mullins team (100/30) and the favourite, Petuna (11/4).
It was Kelly's first-ever track double, and he wasn't there to see it because he is busily preparing for his wedding on Saturday. He was represented by his brother, Jimmy.
The three-mile handicap hurdle went easily to 2/1 favourite, Slygufftou, under Jack Kennedy for Goresbridge trainer, Michael McCullough, for owner and breeder Ivan Kidd, from Udo's Choice (8/1), ridden by David Mullins for Tinahely's Philip Rothwell.
The two miles and four furlongs Beginners' Chase went to Drive the Bus, ridden by P.J. Cawley for Denis Hogan, Cloughjordan, Tipperary, which outstayed 15/8 favourite, Gordon Elliott's Officer Cadet, Paul Carbery's only ride of the night.
Cromwell is not exactly a popular name in Wexford's history, but Navan trainer Gavin Cromwell was a winner on Friday; his 2/1 favourite As De Pique romped home in the three miles, one furlong plus Handicap Chase under young Brian Kane. Jim Dreaper's El Grande (4/1) was second under Kevin Sexton.
Finish of the night was in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase when the well-backed Curragh Golan (9/2) held on by a head under Shane Shortall for Kilkenny trainer Garret Power, Windgap, from the strongly-driven Personal Shopper (5/1), ridden by Rachael Blackmore for Harry Smyth. Favourite, Royal Chief, was a distance behind in third.
There was a reasonable attendance which was not helped by the poor weather for most of Friday. Overall Tote returns at €73,000 odd were down €8,400 on last year, though the attendance was boosted by a number of visiting parties, including a group from Wales.