TOM FOLEY will always be remembered as the man who trained the legendary Danoli. In spite of not finding a horse nearly as good since then, he has turned out his fair share of winners.
Quiet enough in recent times, it was good to see him back in the winners enclosure on the second day of the two-day Wexford meeting on Saturday when Isobella Blue simply destroyed her field in the 81-95 handicap hurdle.
Owned by the trainer’s neighbour Tom Donohue, the Daylami mare had not an awful lot before running a respectable race at Downpatrick back in May and was supported to continue her improvement.
Partnered by talented 7lb claimer Tim Carroll, Isobella Blue was settled just off the pace as her market rival Adropaupep set the pace. The latter made a bad mistake four flights out and was soon joined by Isobella Blue, who drew steadily clear from the third last to win unchallenged by 11 lengths from Adropaupep.
On paper at least it did not looked the greatest hurdle race ever run but there was no denying the superiority of the winner. She will not be heading to Galway this week but looks certain to gain more glory if able to retain this level of form.
Shark Hanlon has struck up a fine partnership with rider Ken Whelan and they enjoyed further success when Don’t Stop Me Now ran out a comfortable winner of the three mile and a furlong handicap chase.
Easy to back the six-year-old raced at the rear of the 15-runner field as Kingsmoss made the early running, but by the time the field reached the third last Whelan had manoeuvred him into a challenging position.
At this point Barry Geraghty had struck for home aboard The Baler, but once Whelan popped the question before the final fence the complexion of the race changed dramatically as Don’t Stop Me Now sauntered clear to win without coming off the bridle.
Sporting first blinkers and tackling the trip for the first time, the winner certainly showed significant improvement on what was her first taste of handicap chase company. She has some decent hurdle form to her credit and handled the good ground well, so she is one to keep on the right side of in staying chases.
Jockey Brian O’Connell, who is attached to the Philip Fenton yard, was seen to good effect when Vital Plot gave Stuart Weld his maiden win as a trainer in the first division of the beginners chase.
A last fence faller at Tipperary when well in contention, the Theatrical gelding was given plenty of time to find his feet. He made nice progress going down the back, arriving to challenge the favourite Goban Saor heading to the last fence. Goban Saor appeared to wander under pressure and O’Connell seized the opportunity to send his mount into the lead which he held all the way to the line where he three-parts of a length to spare.
Weld, a cousin of the legendary Roswell House handler Dermot, told me that he has moved into new yard and was delighted to have broken his duck as a trainer. The horse, which he also owns, was under the care of Dermot in the early stages of his career when he was also successful a few times. He jumped well in the main and could turn out to be nice novice chaser on good ground.
Also gaining his initial success was 19-year-old apprentice Shane Crimin who gave Aon Sceal a polished ride to land the two mile and four handicap hurdle for claiming jockeys.
Having tracked the leaders, Crimin sent his mount to the front with three hurdles left to negotiate. The combination had little difficulty in landing the spoils by five length from Respectueux.
Friday’s opening session saw Jim Bolger return to his native county with a winner as Gold Mirage outstayed the opposition in the extended mile and three 67-80 handicap.
The well-bred daughter of Galileo, which has been consistent without troubling the judge, finally got off the mark after starting favourite for the fourth time in her career. She was never too far out of her ground, hitting the front over a furlong out and responded to pressure to see off the challenge of Un Hinged by a lengths and three-parts.
There are few jockeys riding better at the moment than Billy Lee. After landing the Listed Race aboard Katla at Naas on Wednesday evening he joined forces with David Wachman to take the opening extended mile maiden for mares and fillies with Hadrian’s Waltz.
Well supported, the Holy Roman Emperor filly was always close to the pace. She improved to lead a furlong out and ran all the way to the line where she had half a length to spare over Katherine Lee.
Although she never runs a bad race the winner had slipped down the ratings since the start of the season. She is out of a Sadlers Wells mare, which will make her a valuable prospect as a broodmare once she retires to the paddocks.