Identity Thief was among the top names to score as the jump season kicked in with some big winners at Punchestown on Saturday.
Trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by David Mullins, the classy six-year-old easily landed the 2m beginners’ chase at odds of 2/11 favourite.
Noel Meade saddled three winners and each was ridden by a different jockey. Mark Walsh just got 2/5 favourite Stretchingthetruth home by a head in the opening maiden hurdle but not before he was badly hampered at the final flight by the eventual runner-up Bilko.
Disko, the 9/10 favourite, was Meade’s second winner as he won the 2m4f beginners’ chase in the hands of Sean Flanagan while Patrick Mullins did the steering as 6/5 favourite Bel Ami De Sivola easily landed the bumper to complete the treble.
Mark Walsh secured a double when Stand Up And Fight, a 5/2 chance, ran out the impressive winner of the 2m4f maiden hurdle for trainer Enda Bolger. Over the same distance, 20/1 outsider Definite Income took the handicap hurdle for John Kiely and Brian Hayes.
Kinsale trainer Robert Tyner and Phillip Enright were victorious in the handicap chase with Moss Grove who ran out a convincing winner at odds of 5/1.
Making Light proved too strong for the boys to land the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown on Sunday.
The only filly in the line-up, she was sent off a 3/1 joint-favourite and came home a length to the good over Aidan O’Brien’s Spirit Of Valor.
Weld and Smullen had earlier won the 1m maiden with 8/1 chance Titus who beat Venice Beach, another Ballydoyle runner, to make a winning debut. Joe Murphy teamed up with Gary Carroll to take the Listed Trigo Stakes with Flying Faries, the 11/1 shot proving too strong for the Weld-trained Zawraq who was returning from an absence of 560 days. At the same price, Catch A Wave won the nursery handicap for Kevin Prendergast and Gary Halpin.
Another in-form apprentice to visit the winners enclosure was Oisin Orr who partnered the Ado McGuinness-trained Beau Satchel to success in the 1m handicap.
David Wachman is to retire from training shortly but he sent out White Satin Dancer to win the fillies’ maiden at odds of 4/1 under Wayne Lordan.
The 12f handicap was won by 33/1 outsider Carraigin Aonair which was ridden for Cork trainer John Murphy by Niall McCullagh. The third and final leg of the Corinthian Challenge Race Series was won by the Gordon Elliott-trained Labaik. The successful 3/1 chance was a second career winner for Sheikh Fahad Al Thani.
Prince Reigns supreme
British raider Caspian Prince made all the running to win the Listed Mercury Stakes at Dundalk on Friday night.
With Declan McDonogh in the saddle, the Roger Fell-trained 6/1 shot just held off the challenge of Moviesta by a head to win in a course record time of 57.1 seconds.
There was only a nose between stable companions London and Schubert in the 1m maiden with success going to the former to the delight of winning rider Seamus Heffernan and favourite backers who sent the three-year-old off a 7/4 chance.
Another winning market leader was 9/4 shot He’s Our Music who won the claiming race for Pat Flynn and Pat Smullen. To Choose was a 7/2 favourite for the 12f handicap and he made no mistake for Meath trainer Tom Gibney and Colin Keane. Another Meath winner was Sevenleft, who won the 7f handicap for Sheila Lavery and Gary Carroll.
Ken Condon and Shane Foley combined to win the 5f handicap with 10/1 shot Ice Cold In Alex while the apprentice handicap went to the father and son team of Niall and Tom Madden, who struck with 16/1 shot Against The Breeze.
Tralee jockey Cian Collins was once again seen to good effect when partnering Gordon Elliott’s De Plotting Shed to success in the He’llberemembered Hurdle as the season at Thurles began on Thursday.
The well-supported 13/8 favourite raced clear going to the final obstacle and came home a five length winner from Bentelimar to give Collins a sixth career success.
The 1/2 favourite Alpha Des Obeaux got off the mark over fences at the second attempt when landing the beginners’ chase in comfortable fashion under David Mullins. Another market leader to win was 5/1 chance Summer Storm who battled well to win the 2m handicap hurdle for ‘Shark’ Hanlon and Rachael Blackmore.
For Sinead was sent off the well backed 4/1 favourite for the 2m6f handicap hurdle and showed plenty of determination to see off Cloudy Morning for trainer Michael Winters and Mark Walsh.
Mega Fortune was sent off the 8/11 favourite for the three-year-old maiden hurdle but he was hampered and came down at the fifth hurdle which left the way clear for 7/2 shot Zig Zag to land the spoils for Joseph O’Brien and Jody McGarvey.
All who joined the gamble on Shouband were rewarded when Roger Loughran partnered John Morrison’s seven-year-old to a cosy four length success. The winner was backed from 16/1 in the morning and from 10/1 to 6/1 on course.
Enough A Winner
Enough Is Enough ran out a ready winner of the 7f handicap to record his fifth course success at Gowran Park on Tuesday.
Trained in Dunbell by Paddy Meany, the nine-year-old was sent off a 14/1 chance in the hands of Tom Madden and came home a two and a quarter length winner.
There were two longer priced winners on the day with What About Bob landing a shock 33/1 victory for Christy Roche and Andrew Breslin, who was riding his fourth winner, in the 7f nursery handicap and 16/1 chance Dont Quit taking the 1m handicap for Jim Gorman and Rory Cleary.
Monasterevin trainer Jarlath Fahey won the 9f maiden with 10/1 chance Nanabad who was ridden by Gary Halpin. Another apprentice on the mark was Denis Linehan. He rode his 16th career winner when taking the 1m6f handicap on 9/1 shot Coolfighter, who is trained in Enniscorthy by Noel Dooly.
Punters enjoyed better fortune at the beginning of the day as 8/13 favourite Sir John Lavery won the 1m maiden for Aidan O’Brien and Seamus Heffernan while 9/4 favourite Zelaniya took the auction maiden over the same distance for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen.
The 2016 Flat season draws to a close at Leopardstown on Saturday. The day will be marked by presentations to the champion owner, trainer, jockey and apprentice. The title of Champion Owner looks set to go right down to the wire with Mrs Sue Magnier holding the slenderest of leads over HH The Aga Khan. Aidan O’Brien is once again the Champion Flat Trainer. The fillies Minding and Found were his big prize-money winners during another tremendous season for Ballydoyle. O’Brien saddled Seventh Heaven to win the Darley Irish Oaks while he also enjoyed Group 1 success in the Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes with Minding and with Churchill and Caravaggio.
Pat Smullen was first crowned Champion Jockey in 2000 and heads the list for the ninth time this year.
Donnacha O’Brien (18) is another to enjoy a tremendous season and has captured the Champion Apprentice title. Donnacha is clear of Gary Halpin, Killian Leonard and his sister Ana in the table.
Today (Wednesday): Dundalk (First Race 6pm). Thursday: Clonmel (2.15pm). Friday: Dundalk (6pm). Saturday: Leopardstown (1.30pm). Sunday: Wexford (12.55pm), Galway (1.10pm). Monday: Wexford (1.15pm), Galway (1.25pm).