Lots of drama at Bettyville
Three winners from Wexford
Wednesday night's National Hunt card at Wexford's Bettyville course had a bit of everything - some exciting finishes, some drama in the home straight, including a stewards' enquiry that altered the result of the feature event, three Wexford winners and weather that gave a taste of all four seasons in a few hours, from sunshine to heavy rain.
The full seven-race card was sponsored by online betting firm, 188BET, and it attracted some good fields that may have cost the sponsors some money as a couple of decent gambles came off.
The heavy downpour may have been responsible for the gremlins that caused the failure of the course commentary for two races, and Dan Walsh's parade-ring announcements were lost to the public for most of the meeting.
There was a controversial conclusion to the €17,500 feature, the two-mile 188BET.co.uk handicap hurdle, which worked to the benefit of trainer Noel Dooly, based at his Kilbride stable, Courtnacuddy.
Dooly's Coolfighter (14/1), ridden by David Splaine, and Flaviana (5/1), ridden by Robbie Power for Jessica Harrington, were neck and neck up the finishing straight and jumped the last together.
Flaviana veered right and made contact with her rival before Power straightened her up and they flashed across the line practically together, the photo showing Flaviana ahead by a couple of inches.
The stewards decided the interference was enough to affect the result and reversed the first two placings - very good news for the Wexford trainer and his owners, The Cool Boy Partnership. Dooly has been doing quite well since he set up in Courtnacuddy in 2013 with his wife Jennifer, having gained early experience with the Coolmore operation here in Ireland and in the United States.
Wexford connections were to the fore in the final two-mile mares' bumper also, with the regular point-to-point pairing of trainer Colin Bowe from Kiltealy and rider Barry O'Neill from Ballindaggin having an all-the-way success at 3/1 on Golden Flowerpower, owned by Margaret Kavanagh.
It was a well-judged front-running ride by O'Neill to score by a comfortable eight lengths from Declan Queally on Tom Hogan's Cant Wait, well backed in from 4/1 to 9/4 favourite.
Race two, the three-mile maiden hurdle, also produced a Wexford success for jockey Seán Flanagan from Palace East on trainer Noel Meade's Red Giant, backed in from 6/1 to 5/2 favourite.
He had replaced Liz Doyle's Emma Beag, ridden by Brian O'Connell, at the top of the betting and the punters got it right.
Having briefly looked in trouble in the back straight, Flanagan shook up Red Giant and he asserted up the finishing hill to win impressively by eight lengths from Doyle's horse.
The punters got it right in the first race also, the 188BET two and a half mile maiden hurdle, with Robbie Power winning on well-backed even-money favourite, Bright Tomorrow, trained by Jessica Harrington. Cradle Mountain (2/1) was second, ridden by Jodie McGarvey for Joseph O'Brien, son of Aidan. Man of Conquest, owned by Jim Bolger's wife, Jackie, was third at 33/1.
It was a big night for seven-pound claimer Katie O'Farrell from Kilkenny who won the two and a quarter miles handicap hurdle on her mother's Star of Angels for Shark Hanlon.
Among those she beat was her brother, Conor, well back on Jacksey's Well. Second was Ted (33/1), ridden by Brian O'Connell for Tinahely's Philip Rothwell, and third was Teacher's Pet (7/1) under Luke Dempsey.
In the mares' beginners' chase, Mark Bolger made all on My Betty (7/1), trained by Peter Croke from Glenealy in Wicklow.
He won from Gordon Elliott's Isabella Liberty (2/1), ridden by Luke Dempsey, and Thanks for Tea (16/1) under Brian Hayes. The disappointment here was heavily-backed favourite, Queen Alphabet (11/10); Davy Russell's only ride of the night was fourth.
Lily the Lioness (7/2 favourite) was a good winner of the €16,500 handicap chase, under Brian O'Connell for Garret James Power from Windgap, Kilkenny, from Wither Hills (12/1) under Robbie Colgan, and Liberty's Gift (8/1), ridden by Patrick Corbett.
The drama here was at the second-last fence in front of the stand when Colm Murphy's Mister Hotelier (7/1) was still in contention under young Niall Prendergast when he ducked left approaching the fence and crashed out through the wing.
It was nasty looking, but jockey and horse were okay.
The next meeting at Wexford is scheduled for Friday evening, July 1.