HARRISTOWN trainer Mikey Butler has landed many a gamble in his time and did it again at Cork on Bank Holiday Monday when Akinspirit captured the two mile 81-123 handicap hurdle.
Partnered by the trainer’s son Mikey the Invincible Spirit gelding, which was well supported at morning prices, raced towards the rear of the field early on but made good progress to be right in the firing line turning to face the judge. The rider kicked for home on the run to the third last flight of hurdles and from there ran on strongly to beat Tellherimnothere by four and a half lengths.
Considered to be a Summer horse Akinspirit has been a great servant to connections. If the current soft conditions continue he will be given a break and return if ever we see good ground again.
Tommy Treacy, for many years first jockey to the Paddy Mullins stable but now attached to the Jessica Harrington yard, recorded a double courtesy of Run ‘N’ Jump and Gimli’s Rock. The Flemensfirth filly Run ‘N’ Jump set the ball rolling with a hard earned success over Swampfire in the opening maiden hurdle over two miles.
A market drifter, she failed to read the script as she was always prominent before leading the penultimate flight of hurdles. Long-time leader Swampfire did not give in without a battle but a mistake at the last did not help. However he battled back and only half a length separated the pair at the line.
A relentless galloper, the winner missed a hurdle and on this evidence is capable of adding to this success.
Treacy completed his brace when Gimli’s Rock took the featured conditions hurdle over three mile miles in fine style. Mossy Joe was the odds-on favourite and attempted to make every post a winning one but began to fly distress signals once the straight was reached, dropping away to finish last of the three runners.
In contrast Gimli’s Rock was always travelling well. Treacy asked him to up his game going to three out. He responded well to lead at the next flight and run all the way to the line where he had five lengths to spare over Won In The Dark.
Jessica Harrington, the winning trainer, was absent from the meeting but she told me later in the week that her charge was tackling the trip for the first time. He likes a small field and she will be on the lookout for a nice staying hurdle to target him at.
It must be said that Mossy Joe was a huge disappointment. Rider Barry Geraghty revealed that the horse, which was returning after a break, travelled well until emptying in the straight. The ground was not to his liking either and he will come for the outing, so Listowel could be the place to recover losses.
Clonmel hotelier John Nallen was also absent from the meeting but it did not stop Minella Lady score a narrow victory in the older horses maiden hurdle. Given a confident ride by Davy Russell, the eight-year-old was not rushed in the early stages. She chased Champagne Agent from the second last before leading close home, hitting the wire a neck to the good.
Champagne Agent, which is trained by Willie Mullins, is proving costly to follow. He looked a winner all over when hitting the front but failed to hold the late surge of Minella Lady. The hot favourite Reafadda was disappointing. Highly regarded, he dropped away tamely after leading for part of the race and was 16 lengths behind the first pair at the line.
Philip Rothwell made a welcome return to the winner’s enclosure when Slim To None landed the two mile and three handicap hurdle for claiming jockeys.
Although not foot perfect early on the six-year-old responded well to the urgings of Andrew Ring to jump the last in front. He then came off a straight line but lasted home by a length and a half. A stewards’ inquiry followed, but they decided not to alter the placings.
Fiona Murphy certainly had a evening to remember at Tipperary on Friday evening when she made a winning racecourse debut aboard the 16/1 chance First Friday.
Trained near Gowran by Paul Hennessy, the High Chaparral gelding led early on but looked beaten when headed before the straight. However, once Fiona got serious with him he rallied strongly, winning comfortably by seven lengths from Apache Drums.
This was a fine piece of horsemanship by Fiona. On this evidence we will be seeing a lot more of her in the future.