Friday 23 August 2019

ONolan has sole local winner

e1,900 raised for equipment required by McNamara

Adam, Ronan and Ciaran Cuddihy hoping to pick a few winners
Adam, Ronan and Ciaran Cuddihy hoping to pick a few winners
Niamh Higgins, Richard O'Brien and Una O'Brien at the Races

There was a good turn-out in warm but overcast conditions for the National Hunt race meeting at Bettyville on Friday evening.

Paul Nolan provided the only Wexford winner of the night, though Colin Bowe and jockey Seán Flanagan were only denied by a second-last fence mishap when victory seemed assured.

The Wexford Racecourse Supporters' Club raised €1,900 in a collection on the evening for some special equipment needed by Robbie McNamara, who is undergoing rehabilitation for serious injuries incurred in a horrible fall at Wexford in March. Robbie is making progress but has a long road to travel.

A presentation was made by Wexford Racecourse Chairman, Michael Murphy, to trainer Gordon Elliott to mark his great achievement when he picked up seven winners on the previous day, between Perth and Bellewstown. Elliott had to be satisfied with just two seconds on the night, including the defeat of a hot favourite.

Main sponsors of the evening were Stena Line who backed two of the chases and they had a big presence enjoying the meeting. The betting on the Tote for the night was €104,500, up €20,000 on the same meeting last year.

Paul Nolan's success came in the second-last race, the Carrickbyrne Handicap Chase over two miles and four furlongs, a race dominated by Wexford connections and marred by a bit of chaos half way through.

Illtakeitfromhere stayed on well under Luke Dempsey to win it at 9/1 for Westmeath owner, Philip Byrne. Nolan also saddled the fancied top weight, The Mooch, but he faded back into fourth. Second was Knockraha Price ridden by Jonathan Burke and third was taken by Pat Rath's (Screen, Curracloe) Close Review, ridden by Mikey Fogarty (Cleariestown).

Ruby Walsh was on the gamble of the race, his father's Old Castletown, and Ted was present to see him being taken down at the eighth fence after Midnight Molly fell; also badly hampered and put out of the race were Via Del Corso and Liz Doyle's Seán Flanagan-ridden All The Way Home, a winner at the track in April.

It was a tough night for Flanagan, from Palace East, Clonroche. He seemed to have the Stena Line Europe Beginners' Chase over three miles, eleven and a half furlongs at his mercy when he drove Gold Patrol, trained by Kiltealy's point-to-point champion Colin Bowe, to the front on the turn in to the straight, but the horse jinked after the second last and Flanagan was unshipped.

The race went to the front-running 12/1 outsider, Easter Hunt, for Mouse Morris, ridden by seven-pound claimer, Shane Cribbin, from Officer Cadet (5/1), ridden by David Mullins for Gordon Elliott. This was a one-two for Ryanair's Michael O'Leary, and his third runner in the race was the fancied Paul Nolan-trained Is Love Alive but he had to be pulled up by Bryan Cooper.

Tiger Bay Lady was the gamble of the night in this race, backed into 9/4 favourite; however, he refused to race and was not given a second chance by the starter. The annoying thing is that most of the bookies refund bets to their shop and online customers in these circumstances, but this does not happen with the on-course bookies and all the money piled on at the track was lost without a run.

This sort of thing does not encourage people to actually attend the races if you get a better deal by staying comfortably at home in front of the telly with your Iphone, or going to the bookie's shop. It's within the rules but hardly in the spirit of fair play.

Danny Mullins had a treble at the last Wexford meeting and he followed up this time with a comfortable favourites double for his father, Tony.

Fearachain (6/4) won the two miles, four furlongs Ferrycarrig maiden hurdle, from He's Our Robin, ridden by David Mullins for his father, Tom.

Half an hour later they repeated the dose in the two-mile Nick O'Donnell Memorial Handicap Hurdle, named after the great Wexford hurler of the 1950s and '60s. Elis Gury was backed into evens and won well from top weight Fairy Court (25/1), ridden by Katy O'Farrell, and Idontdalaay (14/1), steered by Alan Lynch.

There was an upset in the Stena Line Horizon Chase which cut up badly and left only three runners, but they were all class animals. Victory went to 12/1 outsider Arnaud, trained by Charles Byrnes in Limerick and ridden by David Mullins, from money-on favourite The Game Changer (8/13), who was far from fluent at the last two under Bryan Cooper, who had a miserable night.

This was another one-two for Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House operation. Third was Upazo, under Ruby Walsh for Willie Mullins, who never looked like a winner.

The Cup was presented to the winning connections by the peerless Nick O'Donnell's granddaughter, Rebecca.

Proceedings began with the two miles, two furlongs mares' maiden hurdle, won easily by well-backed front runner, Gortnatona, ridden by Jonny Burke for Cork's Michael Winters. Second was Twenty Four Years (9/2), only runner of the night by jockey Paul Townend and trainer Tony Martin, and third was Bunclody-based John Cullen's Petite Beauty (18/1), ridden by Richie Deegan from Borris.

The concluding bumper over two miles, two furlongs produced the finish of the night. How's Patsy (7/2), owned and trained by Stephen Ryan and ridden by Donal Skehan, held on by a short head after a protracted battle up the finishing straight with Dontdropmein (5/1), ridden by Richie Kiely for Andrew Slattery. Debutant, The Ryanline (5/1), about which there was some good word beforehand, was third but was 20 lengths back.

The 11/8 favourite, TTStar, from the formidable Willie Mullins/Patrick Mullins team, was never travelling and was pulled up.

It was quite a good night's racing, enhanced by the presence of three big screens. Next up at Bettyville is a two-day fixture on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, July 24 and 25.

Wexford People

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