Wexford flag kept flying at Fairyhouse
There were some big prizes on offer at Fairyhouse over the weekend, and the Wexford connections had limited success, with J.J. Slevin and Jamie Codd registering wins in the first and last races of the two-day meeting.
Sunday's card was the richest of the season so far with three Grade 1s and a €100k handicap, but we had to wait for the last for a Wexford win, with Jamie Codd steering home Envoi Allen (4/9) for Elliott in a strong, 14-runner bumper.
Codd had driven up from Cork where he had won the opening four-year-old maiden for Denis Murphy (The Ballagh) on Flemensfirth gelding, Overthetop
This was a track debut for Envoi Allen which had been an impressive ten-length winner of a point-to-point at the Wexford Hunt meeting at Ballinaboola in February, under Barry O'Neill. The Colin Bowe-trained son of Muhtathir was then sold on at the Cheltenham Sale for a cool £400,000 to the Cheveley Park Stud, and his career will be watched with interest.
Seán Flanagan was in contention all through the €50k handicap chase but had to settle for second on Noel Meade's Major Destination (16/1), behind surprise all-the-way winner, Dinnie's Vinnie (also 16/1) for the Dempseys, with Paul Nolan's Fitzhenry (6/1) coming in third under Barry Geraghty.
It was Davy Russell's day with a terrific treble, including a Grade 1 on Delta Work for Gordon Elliott in the Drinmore.
There were impressive Grade 1 wins for Ruby Walsh on Quick Grabim for Willie Mullins in the Royal Bond hurdle and by Jack Kennedy on Apple's Jade as the mare took the Hatton's Grace hurdle for the third year in a row even though she's only a six-year-old.
Much more will be heard of these as the season progresses, and Cheltenham in March will be the ultimate target.
Slevin began well in the first on Saturday, getting home by a neck on cousin Joseph O'Brien's Mortal (10/1) in the listed Ladbrokes novice hurdle, with Seán Flanagan third on Noel Meade's Cherokee Bill (20/1).
Seán O'Keeffe was delighted to get a couple of rides for the powerful Jessica Harrington yard and was second against all the top riders in a 17-runner handicap hurdle on her Jetez (11/2), beaten by Brian Hayes on Nobody Home.
Earlier in the week, Flanagan won a maiden hurdle at Punchestown on Wednesday on the Noel Meade-trained Daly Tiger (6/4f); Paul Nolan's Quamino (9/1) came third under Bryan Cooper in a rated novice chase, and Jamie Codd came second in the bumper on Minella Beat (8/1) for John Nallen.
Barry O'Neill, champion point-to-point jockey, scored on the track at Limerick on Friday in a qualified riders' novice hurdle on Plan of Attack (7/2) for Henry De Bromhead.
Both Daryl Jacob and Tom O'Brien had winners on Wednesday at Hereford - Star of Lanka (3/1) scoring for Jacob in a novice hurdle for Warren Greatrex, while O'Brien won for Paul Webber on Copperfacejack (7/1) in a handicap chase.
O'Brien won at Doncaster on Friday aboard Almost Gold (4/5f) for Ian Williams, and he travelled to Leicester for a single ride on Sunday and made it pay on the well-backed Master Work (6/5f) for Philip Hobbs.
P.J. McDonald has been finding winners a bit harder to come by back on the all-weather after a good season on turf, but he won on Wednesday at Newcastle on Breathtaking Look (6/1).