Flanagan's big win
Last fence drama in Naas novice chase
Wexford jockeys were involved in last fence drama at Fairyhouse on Saturday and Naas on Sunday with mixed results, with Seán Flanagan pulling off an unlikely victory in the featured €45,000 Grade 3 Woodlands Park novice chase over three miles at the Kildare venue.
Flanagan was in contention on Moulin A Vent (7/2) for Noel Meade right through, but his mount was very sticky over the third last and seemed to be drifting out of contention. However, Mossback and Jack Kennedy crashed out at the last, interfering slightly with Moulin A Vent, leaving Jury Duty and Robbie Power in the clear.
The leader ran out of gas in a big way on the run in and Flanagan nabbed him and won going away by four and a half lengths. The winner was 1,000/1 in running, and €5.50 was bet on him at that.
Flanagan was second in the €18,500 novice handicap chase on Seamus Fahey's The Informer (7/2), having to give way on the run-in to Rachael Blackmore on Wishmoor for Mouse Morris. Jonathan Moore was challenging on Tom Gibney's Next Bend when falling at the last.
Even more unlucky at Fairyhouse on Saturday was young James Sullivan from Camolin who had the handicap chase at his mercy on Rightback Atya after a great front-running performance when he toppled at the last.
Sullivan and trainer Philip Rothwell were trying to follow up on their victory a week earlier at Navan in this three mile-one race in pretty heavy conditions, and it looked like it was a formality when Rightback Atya's (11/2) stamina was telling and he had pulled well clear approaching the last, but he crumpled on landing and victory was handed to Dinnie's Vinnie (7/2) for the Dempseys.
The world rankings for last year's flat season were issued during the week and they indicate that. Aidan O'Brien may be in for another record year. It is hard to believe, but 15 of the top 45 two-year-olds in the world last year are in the care of the Ballydoyle maestro and he will surely be dominant once again, given reasonable luck.
He does not have many runners at this time of year but his Clear Skies (11/8) romped to his fifth win in six outings on the all-weather at Dundalk on Friday evening under son, Donnchadh, in a €25,000 handicap.
In Britain, the Wexford jump jockeys have been having a quiet time. Daryl Jacob has to go back to January 12 for his last winner, and he failed to break the run with a couple of high profile rides at the final pre-festival meeting at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Bristol De Mai (7/4f) had his favoured heavy conditions in the Gold Cup trial, the £100,000 Cotswold Chase, and did not appear to get home after some 'iffy' jumping and was third, more than ten lengths behind Definitely Red. His participation in the big race must now be in doubt, especially if the ground comes up good.
Jacob fared a bit better in the £60,000 Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle on Wholestone (9/2), but after a gripping battle had to give way to Lizzie Kelly and Agrapart (9/1).
Tom O'Brien has had just one winner from 25 rides in the past 21 days also, and that was on King of Realms (3/1) for Ian Williams at Doncaster on Friday.
On the flat, Pat McDonald continues to work hard and has had nine wins from 54 rides in the past three weeks, including four in the past week - at Wolverhampton on Monday on Island Brave (3/1); at Southwell on Tuesday on Senatus (7/4f); at Kempton on Friday on Charles Fox (9/2) for James Fanshaw, and at Lingfield on Saturday on Aquarium (11/10) for Mark Johnston.
By my reckoning he travelled about 1,200 miles on Friday and Saturday for nine rides at Lingfield and Wolverhampton that yielded two winners. 'Gruelling' hardly describes it.