Flanagan springs 50/1 surprise
The Wexford Festival two-day meeting at Bettyville in Wexford got off to a fine start on Saturday, with a good crowd enjoying a seven-race card and some very pleasant weather conditions. They bet just short of €90,000 on the Tote on the day.
The ground conditions were perfect for good, safe jumping and Bettyville looked a picture in the sunshine for the Casey Concrete-sponsored card. It was not a great day for the punters with some hotshots turned over and some very long-priced winners.
The only Wexford success came in the first race, the Casey Concrete Blocks maiden hurdle, and it was a major upset with Seán Flanagan from Clonroche, who is in a rich vein of form, striking on 50/1 shot Cheiluradh. She is trained by David Harry Kelly in Tipperary and is owned and was bred by Rory Stafford and family in Kilmore Quay.
Sent off 1/4 favourite was the John Kiely-trained Timingseverything, but she ran a stinker and was pulled up. Sandra Hughes trained the runner-up Silken Thomas, and Bailey Moon was third for Mouse Morris and Mark Enright.
It looked like there was going to be another Wexford winner in the second, The Casey Tarmacadam Mares' Hurdle; Mikey Fogarty tried to make all on Paul Nolan's I'm All You Need (11/4 f) and it almost paid off.
He was collared in the end by Ma Garrett (100/30), trained in the north by John Nicholson and ridden by David Mullins.
Seán Flanagan seemed set for a winning double in the third, The Casey Concrete Gorey Handicap Hurdle, which produced another shocker. He started as 4/1 favourite on John Cullen's (Bunclody) Sister Annie and appeared set to strike in the straight but he could not pass the all-the-way leader, 33/1 shot Grey Mountain Mist.
The winner is trained in Sligo by Niall Moran and was ridden by young Patrick Corbett, having his first success since he broke his leg away back in April. Third was Queen Matilda, trained in Louth by Donal Kinsella and ridden by Robbie Colgan.
The next two races resulted in a winning double for jockey Brian Cooper and Michael O'Leary of Ryanair's Gigginstown House Stud. First up in the Casey Cattle Slats maiden hurdle was 8/11 hot-shot Attribution, trained in Waterford by Henry de Bromhead. Having been second on three occasions, he was a convincing winner this time.
Second was Dylrow (5/2), trained by Robbie Hennessy in Meath. A very promising third was Our Brian (25/1), trained near Camolin by John Brennan and ridden by promising young amateur, James Slevin from Kiltrea, Enniscorthy.
Brian Cooper completed his quick double in the Casey Brothers Supporting Their Local Racecourse beginners' chase when he made practically all the running and was an easy winner on Unic De Bersy (3/1), trained by Gordon Elliott.
Second here was the 9/4 favourite, owned by Barry Connell and ridden by Adrian Heskin, and third was Exhibit Five (22/1), under Luke Dempsey.
The feature race was the €25,000 Casey Precast Handicap Chase and a convincing winner was Dandridge (7/2 second favourite), ridden by Jonathan Burke and trained by Arthur Moore who is expert at picking up these valuable handicaps.
Second was Boher Call (9/2), under Jonathan Burke for Paul W. Flynn form Longford, and third was Bless the Wings for Gordon Elliott and Keith Donoghue.
As usual the Willie and Patrick Mullins combination was favourite to win the bumper, sponsored by the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders' Fund, with Pont De Alma going off at 9/4 but fading into fourth. Easy winner was Cashelard Lady (12/1), trained by Shane Crawley in Tara, Co. Meath, ridden by J.J. King.
Second here was Ballinlough Zara (40/1), ridden by young James Slevin for Eoin Griffin, and third was Una's Pleasure for John Joe Walsh from Cork, ridden by M.A. McCurtin.
In summary, it was a good day's racing but a tough one for the punters as the bookies won this round.
Day two of the National Hunt Festival took place on Monday afternoon and we will carry the details next week.