Hidden Cyclone and Danny Mullins jumping ahead of The Game Changer (Cian Collins) and Rashaan (Sean Flanagan) on their way to winning "The Coral.ie Rated Hurdle" at Punchestown. Photo: Alain Barr
The finest hour of Shane Foley’s career arrived at the Curragh in May when he guided Jet Setting to glory in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas, so it was fitting that Graignamanagh jockey registered a double at the final fixture of 2016 at Flat headquarters.
Foley’s first winner arrived on Doonard Prince in the 6f handicap as he made it back-to-back wins at the track for Ross O’Sullivan before he completed the double on the Jessica Harrington-trained Grandee in the 1m1f maiden.
Ballingarry rider Billy Lee also helped himself to a double on 5-1 favourite Texas Rock in the 7f handicap and Wild As The Wind, trained by Willie McCreery, who took the 1m1f fillies maiden.
The tastiest dish was served up first as Aneen, a half-sister to 2,000 Guineas winner Awtaad, showed a smart turn of foot to take the 7f fillies maiden under Chris Hayes. She could develop into a 1,000 Guineas filly for next season.
Brothers Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien teamed up to land the 1m2f handicap with Jaqen H’Ghar. The final race of the 2016 season, the 1m4f handicap, went the way of the Jim Bolger-trained New Direction under Rory Cleary at odds of 12-1.
Mullins magic in Cork
Templemore trainer John Ryan and Danny Mullins added another chapter to their success story when Draycott Place won Sunday’s feature, the Cork Racecourse Kinsale Handicap Chase, in fine style at odds of 7-2.
There was no sign of Ruby Walsh suffering from jet-lag as he arrived back from Far Hills in New Jersey, where he won the American Grand National on Rawnaq, to ride a double.
The champion jockey struck first on the Eric McNamara-trained The Fitz Lady in the 2m3f handicap hurdle and later won the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Rated Novice Chase on 9-4 favourite New Kid In Town for his boss Willie Mullins.
Blood Crazed Tiger looks to have a bright future ahead and he followed up his Gowran Park maiden hurdle victory by winning the INH Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Novice Hurdle in the hands of David Mullins for Gordon Elliott, who went on to record a double when Morgan took the concluding bumper under Luke McGuinness.
Brendan does Business
For the second year in succession Brendan Brackan landed the Listed Navigation Stakes at Cork. A table stalwart for Ger Lyons over the years, he registered a seventh career success in the hands of Gary Carroll who burst into a clear early lead and never looked in danger at any stage.
Fresh from winning the big one at Dundalk on Friday night, Johnny Murtagh sent out 7-2 favourite Windsor Beach to win the Equine Acres Handicap under Niall McCullagh. Moyne trainer Tim Doyle and Ballingarry rider Billy Lee teamed up to win the opening 7f maiden with 2-1 favourite Spanish Tenor.
Aidan O’Brien had bigger fish to fry over at Champions Day at Ascot but that did not stop him from sending out 13-8 favourite Galilean to win the 1m handicap.
Johnny Murtagh’s season has taken a turn very much for the better since receiving a consignment from Ballygallon Stud, and it reached a fitting climax with the impressive victory of the Pat Smullen-ridden Hawke in the Listed Carlingford Stakes at Dundalk on Friday night.
The son of Oratorio travelled like a good horse throughout for the champion jockey and quickened up well to beat the Ger Lyons duo Elusive Heights and Tennessee Wildcat by a length and three-quarters. The Dubai Carnival in the Spring may well be the next port of call.
Veteran Golden trainer Tommy Stack is set to retire at the end of the season but he is still sending out winners with Hurricane Cass collecting the Crowne Plaza Race & Stay Package Handicap under Upton rider Wayne Lordan.
Former Irish Grand National-winning trainer Tom Gibney sent out To Choose to win the 1m4f handicap under Colin Keane, who was also successful on Room To Roam in the opening 7f maiden.
There were big prices in the 7f fillies maiden and the 7f apprentice handicap which were won by She’s Ranger and Appointment Only respectively.
De Bromhead Double
Henry De Bromhead won both Grade 3 races at Punchestown on Thursday with Sadler’s Risk and Three Stars. Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack won the Irish Daily Star Chase for the last two years and Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown had teamed up to land the race for five years in a row but that domination ended as Sadler’s Risk jumped fluently throughout under David Mullins and stormed to a five and a half length success over Lord Scoundrel. The Grade 1 JNWine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal is next on the agenda.
Three Stars put in an exhibition of jumping under Ruby Walsh to land the Buck House Novice Chase by two and a quarter lengths from Ball D’Arc. He could return to Punchestown for the Craddockstown Novice Chase next month.
Veteran Dungarvan trainer John Kiely was celebrating after the 2m4f handicap hurdle as Master Appeal did the business under Ambrose McCurtin at odds of 7-1. Shark Hanlon had two winners in two days as Magna Cartor won the 2m handicap hurdle under Rachael Blackmore.
Gordon Elliott continued his red-hot form as Labaik landed the 2m maiden hurdle under Keith Donoghue at odds of 16-1. The Noel Meade-trained Tiger Sam won the Ingoldsby Handicap Chase while the concluding bumper went to Tom and Patrick Mullins as 9-1 chance Arctic Light scored.
Ruby shines in the States
Ruby Walsh’s trip to America on Saturday proved a fruitful one when the 11-time champion jockey led Rawnaq to victory in the American Grand National.
The former Irish-trained nine-year-old registered a gutsy victory in North America’s most prestigious jumps race. The winner, trained by Cyril Murphy, could be prepared for Cheltenham next March with the World Hurdle on the horizon for connections eyeing a whopping $500,000 bonus.
Walsh, whose bulging CV also includes two Cheltenham Gold Cups, three Champion Chases, four Champion Hurdles and five King George VI Chases as well as a Nakayama Grand Jump, has also won Grand Nationals at Aintree, Chepstow, Ayr and Fairyhouse along with victory in the Australian version last year.
Today (Wednesday): Navan (First Race 2.05pm). Thursday: Thurles (2.05pm). Friday: Dundalk (6.05pm). Saturday: Punchestown (1.55pm). Sunday: Leopardstown (1.30pm).