IT SEEMS like an eternity ago since Tom Foley was winning all before him with the mighty Danoli, but times have changed.
Foley has had to carve out a living with much lesser horses since those heady days, but he visited the winners’ enclosure at Gowran Park on Saturday when Buck Breeze landed the two mile 80-03 handicap hurdle in comfortable fashion.
Owned and ridden by Foley’s daughter Adrienne, the son of Needle Gun was a bumper and maiden hurdle winner early in his career but a recent run of poor form saw him go to post as a 20/1 chance.
Adrienne elected to jump the 11-year-old off in front and although he was joined briefly by Bay Of Kotor before the home straight he pulled away again to win comfortably by three and three-quarter lengths from the latter.
In his post-race remarks the trainer revealed that his charge can be very headstrong but Adrienne, who rides him in all his work, gets on well with him and this was a big factor. He has plenty of ability and even though the clock is ticking on his career he is still capable of winning a decent pot before signing off.
Foley will wait until he sees how the handicapper views the result before making further plans, but he is reluctant to risk him over fences.
Paul Townend teamed up with trainer Edward O’Grady to land a competitive looking novice hurdle aboard Cash And Go. Winner of a Thurles bumper back in February and an easy maiden hurdle at Wexford on his most recent appearance, the son of Sulamani was a strong order in the betting market.
Townend gave him time to find his feet before moving him into contention on the run to four out. Shortly afterwards the remainder of the field began to drop away and it was left to the Jessica Harrington runner Jenari to throw down a challenge.
This pair had the race to themselves from the penultimate flight but Townend kept his mount up to his work to land the spoils by a length. However, it must be said that a loose horse did the runner-up no favours but whether he would have beaten the winner with a clear run is debatable.
These are two very nice young horses and the fact that the third finisher Competitive Edge was 13 lengths adrift would suggest that they could be above average. The likelihood is that they will clash again before the season finishes.
Punters suffered a severe setback in the opening juvenile hurdle when the unconsidered 25/1 chance Wrekin Rock turned over the favourite Canna under 7lb claimer Ben Dalton.
Making his hurdling debut the Statue Of Liberty gelding, which failed to score on the level, was always in the leading group. He slipped on before the straight and in spite of having a good look at the final two hurdles ran on well to beat Canna by four and a half lengths.
Winning trainer Jim Gorman told me that he was a little concerned about the trip as his charge tends to be a little free. He had only started schooling him a couple of weeks earlier after he failed to sell at the sales and he is of the opinion that the horse will improve a good deal for the outing.
Callan handler John O’Shea went close to landing the 90-116 three mile handicap hurdle with Navarov. But for a mistake at the final flight might well have given the winner Micks much more to do.
Settled out the back Navarov began to improve under pressure heading towards the straight. At this point Micks was just about ready to take over and in the end ran out a comfortable enough length and three-parts winner.
Out of the Roselier mare Ear To The Ground, the winner is owned by J.P. McManus whose horses have been in great form of late. He is trained by Christy Roche, who told me that this is only a handy horse and he will now have to consider stepping him up in grade so that he will have a nice racing weight.
Michael Hourigan is another trainer that has been conspicuous by his absence from the winners’ enclosure, but the victory of Cloughmile in the two mile and two 85-114 rated handicap chase made a welcome change. Given a polished ride by Adrian Heskin, the Oscar mare raced in mid division early on before coming with a sustained challenge in the straight to hit the front at the final fence and battle well to shade the verdict over Last time D’Albain by half a length.
Willie Mullins’ incredible streak shows no sign of slowing down. He saddled Call the Police to record a comfortable success in the two mile and four beginners chase to complete a double for Paul Townend.
A decent hurdler, the Accordion gelding was an odds-on chance to make a winning debut over the major obstacles and he did the business with the minimum of fuss.
After tracking the leaders for much of the journey, Townend sent the eight-year-old about his business at the third fence from home. From there the was never in doubt as Call The Police drew clear to win decisively by three lengths from Headford Flyer. A two mile and a half Grade Two contest at Limerick over the Christmas period now awaits the winner.