Quality card at Bettyville
Racing close at hand today
Those of you feeling the withdrawal symptoms from last week's action at Prestbury Park will find a quick cure at Bettyville today, as the annual St. Patrick's Day meeting gets under way.
It is the first National Hunt meeting of 2015 at Wexford Racecourse and the card has plenty of quality on show.
The day's main event is the Arctic Tack Stud Veterans' Handicap Steeplechase of €25,000, generously sponsored by Eoin Banville, and sees Tom Mullins' 2013 Cheltenham winner, Alderwood, take on last September's Kerry National victor, Your Busy.
In the same race Leonard Whitmore's highly thought of Casey Top holds an entry. Other eye-catchers in the feature race include the veteran Fosters Cross and Philip Rothwell's Paddy O'Dee, who swooped to conquer when bottom weight at the Christmas Leopardstown meeting.
Fosters Cross is now 13 years of age but he was successful over hurdles at Thurles in December and is certainly no back number.
Another one worth keeping an eye on is the Tom Taaffe-trained I Knew Well in the Join The Wexford Racecourse Supporters Club Today Maiden Hurdle (2.40 p.m.). He has finished runner-up on his last four outings and certainly deserves his day in the sun.
The Micheál O Murchadha Memorial Rated Hurdle (3.50 p.m.) looks a corker with recent Leopardstown winner Heck Thomas bidding to follow up under Ger Fox who has been cleverly snapped up by Noel Meade.
The seven-race card is off at 2.05 p.m. Admission is €10, or €5 for OAPs and students with valid I.D. Children Under-14 go free and there will be children's entertainment provided.
May the luck of the Irish be with you, especially if, like me, you were hitting crossbars for the best part of Cheltenham.
Congratulations to Camolin trainer Felim O'Dowd who has only run one horse this season, Occidental Lady, and she scored at Limerick on Saturday.
The 20-1 chance landed the Family Fun Day 29th March Handicap Hurdle under Jonathan Moore, scoring from Kindly Vinnie by two lengths. Felim O'Dowd also owns the horse.
Jamie Codd was the pride of the county after winning on two of his three entries at Cheltenham last week (see cover story).
Richie McLernon, who partnered the Paddy Doyle-bred Holywell to fourth in Friday's Cheltenham Gold Cup for trainer Jonjo O'Neill, has this to say after the race: 'I know he stays all day and you can't ask for any more when a horse gives you everything. He gave me his all today - the ground was just a little bit softer than ideal but you can't blame that too much. He gave me a great ride.
'He was travelling away, I know he stays and he loves the hill. You do think for a split-second you might win but it's a long hill. It's a dream experience and I am delighted to be a part of it. I was lucky enough to go out in the race with a live chance.
'It's brilliant for Nico and the Bradstocks. They are a small operation but fair play to them. It was a brave choice - yesterday they wouldn't have got their ground but they got it today.'
Watch out for Holywell on better ground at Aintree!
The Jim Bolger-trained County Wexford scored under jockey Daniel Redmond when taking the Light Up Your Night Apprentice Handicap at Dundalk on Friday night.
The son of Teofilo was headed inside the last by Reckless Lad but found more when asked by Redmond and they made it home with a neck to spare.
Ger Flynn, on behalf of Jim and Jackie Bolger, winning owner/trainer and breeders, said afterwards: 'He's improved since he was gelded but he was keen going to the start. Daniel did well and rode to instructions. He's a nice big scopey horse and he should continue to improve'.
Racing takes place at the following Irish racetracks over the coming week: Wexford, Tuesday, March 17 (first race 2.05 p.m.); Down Royal, Tuesday, March 17 (first race 2.25 p.m.); Thurles, Thursday, March 19 (first race 2.15 p.m.); Dundalk, Friday, March 20 (first race 6.05 p.m.); Gowran Park, Saturday, March 21 (first race 2.20 p.m.), and Downpatrick, Sunday, March 22 (first race 2.10 p.m.).