Weather gods spoil the fun
First all-flat Bettyville meeting
The weather gods were not too kind once again to the first all-flat meeting of the season at Wexford racecourse at Bettyville on Saturday though those punters who braved the elements, which improved as the afternoon wore on, were rewarded with some exciting finishes and wins by four favourites and several other fancied runners in the good going.
There was not much local involvement but two of the world's leading racing families, with strong Wexford connections - the Bolgers and the O'Briens - were among the winners.
While his horses were running quite well, Oylegate native Jim Bolger had not had a winner for a month until he struck in the opening fillies' maiden on Saturday with 9/4 second favourite, Fiuntach, owned by his wife, Jackie, and ridden by son-on-law, Kevin Manning.
She won by a neck from 7/4 favourite Evening Hush, ridden by Shane Foley, and another neck back in third was the really fast-finishing Arya Tara (8/1), ridden by Ana O'Brien for her parents, trainer Aidan (a native of Killegney, Poulpeasty,) and owner Anne Marie.
Former star jockey, Johnny Murtagh, supplied the winning 7/4 favourite in the www.Wexford Races.ie maiden in Eddystone Rock, ridden by Conor King, from Rainfall Radar (13/2) under Shane Foley and Multiculture (14/1) under Conor Keane.
The O'Brien winner came in the third - Phelim Byrne's Séasúir at Wexford Racecourse handicap; nominally trained by Aidan but really in the charge of son, Joseph, who is awaiting his training certificate, the 2/1 favourite, Credit the Giver, swept through in the home straight in the hands of Donnacha O'Brien, in the colours of his mother, Anne Marie.
Second was Jessica Harrington's Palavicnini (10/1), ridden by Colm O'Donoghue, from 14/1 shot, Rock on Rosie, ridden by Ronan Whelan.
The Wexford Median Auction maiden had just seven runners and the longest-priced winner of the day in 5/1 shot, Zilbiyr, who led late on and outstayed Monocle (7/2), under Pat Smullen for Dermot Weld. Even money favourite, Kubali, was a big disappointment and trailed in last.
Veteran trainer, Arthur Moore, is more noted for pulling off handicap coups over fences, but he sent out a hotly-backed 9/4 favourite in the Campile Apprentice Handicap, and Whats the Plot duly obliged under Seán Corby, winning by a neck from Bridle Path (8/1), under Danny Redmond for Jim and Jackie Bolger. Paddy Prendergast's Pincode (7/1) was third.
Another favourite came up in the Black Point three-year-old handicap, with Masonbrook Lady (9/4) sticking to the task well under pressure from Seamie Heffernan for Denis Hogan, to win by half a length from Niall Madden's reserve for J.P. McManus, AA Bee See (11/4), with Papal Motel (11/1) a neck further back for Shane Foley.
The card concluded with the Owenavarragh maiden for qualified riders, and it was a clearcut victory for one of the most qualified riders in the country, the redoubtable Nina Carberry making the trip to Wexford worthwhile with an emphatic ten-length victory on Deor (11/4), trained by the equally redoubtable John Kiely from Waterford.
Second was hotly-punted Rock the World (11/10 favourite), for Jessica Harrington, ridden by her daughter Kate, and third was Blacklough (11/2), ridden by rising star, Finny Maguire, for Henry de Bromhead.
While it is generally accepted that Wexford racing fans mostly prefer the national hunt jumping fare, this flat meeting did provide some exciting finishes and a sporting chance for the punters who stuck with the more fancied horses.
The next meeting at the Bettyville track is a Wednesday evening national hunt fixture on June 15.