independent

Monday 18 December 2017

Ana's narrow escape

Accident puts sport in perspective

Weekly news by Pegasus

Jockey Ana O'Brien who had a narrow escape
Jockey Ana O'Brien who had a narrow escape

There was a major scare at Killarney races on Tuesday evening when Ana O'Brien, 21-years-old daughter of Ballydoyle's Aidan (a native of Killegney, Poulpeasty) and Anne Marie, suffered a horrific fall on the flat when her horse, Druids Cross (trained by her brother, Joseph), came down and was fatally injured.

After more than an hour she was airlifted to Cork University Hospital. Though she suffered damage to her back and face, the worst fears have since been allayed.

A brain scan came up clear and she will not need major surgery. She faces up to four months or more on the sidelines, but the prognosis is good, much to the relief of her family, and all her relatives and friends in Wexford, including her granny, Stella O'Brien.

This incident again illustrates the dangers faced by jockeys in their work every day and puts the unending hunt for winners in perspective. Everyone in racing wishes Ana a complete recovery to full health.

It was quite a good week for jockey J.J. Slevin from Kiltra, Caim, who had a couple of very nice winners and a number of placed rides. By the way, J.J. is a cousin of Ana O'Brien as his mother, Elizabeth, is sister of Aidan O'Brien.

J.J. had just one ride on Tuesday and made the trip to Killarney pay when second on Devil's Bride (8/1) for Henry De Bromhead and Gigginstown in the featured €50,000 handicap chase.

On the closing day at Killarney on Thursday, Slevin had a winner and two seconds from just four rides. The winner came in the handicap hurdle on Immortal Bridge (backed from 9/2 into 2/1f), trained by cousin, Joseph O'Brien.

The seconds came on Seamus Fahey's Is She Diesel (9/2f) in the €26,000 Dawn Milk Hurdle and, Crocodile Dundee (from 25/1 in the morning into 12/1) for local trainer, Tom Cooper, in the handicap chase, being nabbed close home by The Trigger (10/1).

There was a very rare case at Killarney when a qualified riders' race won by Henry De Bromhead's Stars Over The Sea was declared void because of 'unfair starting procedures'. The 'winner' was led in to the start where the other horses were standing waiting as ordered, and then galloped on and gained a substantial lead before the rest of the field got going. Star Over The Sea never saw another rival and 'won' by five lengths.

The stewards ruled that the official was at fault and not the riders, a very unusual outcome in racing. A very similar situation occurred at Wexford at a recent meeting and no action was taken then.

Acting steward Peter Matthews commented: 'There are rules that starters are supposed to obey as well as the jockeys and that's what we would expect and we didn't think there was a fair start and declared it void'. The matter has been referred to the Turf Club and the final outcome will be awaited with great interest.

At Leopardstown on Thursday evening, Aidan O'Brien and jockey Seamie Heffernan shared a double with Battle of Jericho (4/5) and Wild Irish Rose (7/4) in the €55,000 Stanerra Stakes, but they were denied in the big one of the night by Jim Bolger whose Moonlight Magic (5/1) edged out Deauville (4/5) in the €63,000 Meld Stakes.

At the jumps meeting in Kilbeggan on Friday evening, J.J. Slevin was second on Seán Doyle's Gracemount (11/4) in the mares' maiden hurdle behind money-on shot Mystic Theatre, while Barry O'Neill was second in the bumper on Edward O'Grady's Slippery Serpent behind Pat Mullins on Court Artist.

Jonathan Moore filled third spot on Noel Meade's Net D'Ecosse in the €50,000 Midlands National won by Tony Martin's Phils Magic (7/2f) but went two places better at Limerick on Saturday when winning a handicap hurdle for the same trainer with Darkest Flyer (7/2jf).

J.J. Slevin won the feature, the €20,000 Limerick GAA Chase, on Attribution (9/2) for Henry De Bromhead, ahead of Enda Bolger's 4/9 favourite, Ballyoisin.

Jamie Codd was on the heavily-backed Dalouga (evens) for Gordon Elliott in the bumper but the horse was second for the fourth time as they ran into a tartar in Patrick Mullins aboard Mag Mullins's Thegreatestreward (4//1).

BETTYVILLE FRIDAY

Exciting National Hunt racing will combine with fashion and high style for one of the most eagerly-awaited meetings of the year at Bettyville Racecourse, Wexford, on Friday evening.

The most stylish ladies' competitions will be the magnet for all the fashionistas who always support this occasion in great numbers, vying for prizes from Liam Griffin's world class Monart Spa.

There will be over €80,000 on offer for the well-sponsored seven-race card, with the first flag falling at 5.30 p.m. and the concluding bumper set to start at 8.35 p.m. Do keep an eye on the racing pages on Friday as there may be an earlier start if any of the races are divided, a not unusual occurrence.

The action starts with the www.wexfordraces.ie maiden hurdle at 5.30 p.m., followed by the Monart Spa handicap hurdle at 6.05 p.m. - both these are valued at €11,000. The Ocean Harvest Technology handicap hurdle worth €10,000 is off at 6.35 p.m.

The second half of the card is devoted to three chases over the bigger fences, sure to generate lots of excitement as the final two obstacles on each circuit are right in front of the crowds in the stands - there are not many courses where you can get this close to the action.

The €12,500 Ferrybank Opel Beginners' chase is off at 7.05 p.m., followed by the feature of the evening at 7.35 p.m. - The Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap for €15,000, and then the Opel 172 handicap for €12,500.

As is traditional, the action concludes with the flat race (bumper), the €11,000 Irish Stallion Farms EBF race for mares for a purse of €11,000.

For supporters who would like to go directly to Bettyville from work, a special €30 package includes admission and a two-course meal at the Ivy Rooms (advance booking at 087-3828099).

If the weather is benign this should be a most enjoyable evening of sport and fashion.

Wexford People

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