Denied by an inch!
Flanagan close to Roscommon treble
It was a quiet enough week on the domestic jumps scene, though Seán Flanagan came within an inch of a treble at Roscommon on Tuesday evening when the two winners were on chance rides for Gigginstown after Davy Russell had been stood down with an injury.
He just got home by a neck on Arcenfete (6/1) for Henry De Bromhead in a beginners' chase, and he won on Dinons (5/6f) for Godon Elliott in a maiden hurdle.
He came so close to his treble in the next handicap hurdle on board the Noel Meade-owned and trained Arch Stanton (12/1), only denied by a nose by Andrew Ring on Batchelor's Walk (25/1).
At Cork on Monday, Flanagan got the week off to a good start in a 22-runner mares' handicap hurdle on 12/1 shot, Theatre Run, for Carrick-on-Suir trainer, Martin Cahill, ahead of Bryan Cooper on Queen Oscar (25/1).
At the same meeting, trainer Willie Martin from Clonhaston, Enniscorthy, won a 17-runner maiden hurdle with Rolanna (8/1) under Adam Short, following up on a win on the flat in her previous outing at Clonmel in May.
She won by three lengths and seems sure to give some fun to the Kelly/Cloney partnership.
There was no Wexford impact at the Kilbeggan and Downpatrick meetings later in the week.
On the flat, Jim Bolger won the first race of the week at the Curragh on Monday with his wife, Jackie's, Cruciatus (9/4), ridden by Kevin Manning in a two-year-old maiden.
Jessica Harrington is going great guns on the flat and had six winners in four days, a double at the Curragh, a treble at Sligo on Wednesday, and another one at Leopardstown on Thursday, supplemented by a jumps winner at Cork on Monday.
She had 15 winners and 14 places from 70 runners in both codes in a three-week spell.
She really is a remarkable trainer.
She finished the week in spectacular style when collecting the €1 million Jacques Le Marois Stakes at Deauville on Sunday with her wonderful mare, Alpha Centauri.
Irish racing suffers some criticism at times, but a comparison of prize money on offer at some 'ordinary' meetings is interesting.
On the flat, they had six races at Sandown, one of the top British venues, on Thursday evening featuring the top jockeys such as Ryan Moore, Frankie Dettori, Silvestre De Souza, Jamie Spencer etc. and they had a total £60,000 sterling on offer (€68,000 approximately).
The previous evening, there were seven flat races on the Sligo card, and Sligo is hardly one of the top tracks in the country though it is a very nice venue.
The money on offer was over €116,000, nearly €50,000 more than at Sandown.
A look at a seven-race jumps card at Newtown Abbot on Monday proves even more startling - the total prize money was a mere £63,000, with the total for the bumper being a princely £3,500. How can anyone survive on that sort of reward?
In Britain, P.J. McDonald maintained his strike rate with six wins in the week, highlighted by a canny front-running win on Main Edition (7/4f) in the televised £50,000 Group 3 Solara Stakes for fillies at Newmarket on Saturday.
He doubled up in the last with a typical big-priced success on Jam Session (12/1) for Ian Williams, getting up by a head in the dying strides.
He began the week with a double for Mark Johnston on Tuesday at Catterick, on Sky Cross (5/2) by half a length and Sea Youmzain (7/2) in a tight finish to a one mile six handicap.
He had a winner at Newcastle on Thursday evening with Gun Case (9/2) for Andrew Whilans, and on Friday he scored at Chelmsford on Implicit (11/4) for James Tate.