John Kiely eyes third Galway Hurdle

Evergreen trainer John Kiely admitted to having his sights set on a third Galway Hurdle success after the remarkably consistent Ancient Sands took the featured Ladbrokes Ireland Handicap Hurdle on day one of the three-day May festival at Killarney.
John Kiely eyes third Galway Hurdle

First or second in seven of his previous eight races, he was sent off a 6-1 chance to land this near €30,000 winner’s prize under Brian Hayes.

He was settled a little better than midfield for much of the journey, but moved up stylishly on the turn for home.

In a dispute of the lead with the gambled-on Time For Mable (11-2f) as they jumped the second-last, he edged ahead as his challenger faltered after the last, before running on well to beat that rival by a length-and-a-half.

“He’ll have a little break now, but will head to Galway for the Galway Hurdle, where the fast gallop should suit him,” said Kiely, who won the Ballybrit feature with Indian Pace in 2008 and Black Queen 10 years earlier. “And he’ll go chasing when he gets tired of hurdling.”

The well-backed Samanntom made a successful return to the track when taking the Irish Examiner Handicap Chase for Aidan Fogarty. Coming here on the back of two point-to-point victories, the 3-1 favourite was given a positive ride by Mark Enright, and found plenty to race home five clear of Lash It On.

“He’s like a different horse this year,” admitted Fogarty. “He has been out in the field a good bit, and is a lot happier in himself. He jumped terribly in his beginners’ chases, so we sent him point-to-pointing to give him confidence, and it looks like it has worked.”

Sound Money (5-2 to 5-4) may not have been favoured by the quick conditions, but his ability shone through as he took the opening two-mile-one maiden hurdle in style.

Keen early, he gave a fine exhibition of jumping, barring a mistake at the second-last. By that stage, however, it was obvious he was still travelling best, and he duly scooted clear to score with plenty in hand.

Winning trainer Eddie O’Grady said: “He just got away with the ground, and I’d say I’ll put him away until the autumn. Hopefully he could be quite nice. He got a bit lit-up today, but there wasn’t much pace so Robbie [Colgan, jockey] was happy to let him stride on. He’s a lovely big horse, 16.2hh, and will jump a fence later on. I think there’s a future for him.”

Missy Tata proved a class apart in the Jeremy O’Neill Memorial Mares’ Hurdle. Backed to the exclusion of all others, the Gordon Elliott-trained four-year-old was sent off the 8-15 favourite, and there was never a moment she didn’t look like justifying backers’ confidence. Under a confident ride from Jack Kennedy, she took over at halfway, and eased clear late on to win with any amount in hand.

Kennedy said: “She has been very progressive and, while there was a bit of a question mark with the ground, she handled it well and did it easily. If she keeps going the right way, she could be a nice one.”

Trainer Liz Doyle has been having a great run, and Thinkitplanitdoit, who was bought on Done Deal, gave the Wexford handler another victory with a gutsy display in the Killarney Towers Hotel Maiden Hurdle.

Never far off the pace, which wasn’t very brisk, he moved to the front at the second-last, and stayed on gamely to deny the run of Ballyegan Hero by half a length, with the favourite, Investmentsuccess, in third.

“That’s a great advertisement for Done Deal,” said Doyle.

“He won his bumper very well first time out for me on nice-ish ground, and I don’t think he was 100% and the ground too soft when beaten last time. He’s a proper summer horse. He jumped a little bit to his right, but when he strengthens up and gets a bit more experience he’ll be grand. He’s a bit lazy and they didn’t go any gallop, but Sean wound it up all the way up the straight, and gave him a great ride. Again. I think he’ll be going down the novice hurdling route.”

Gambling Girl showed her likeness for fast ground, when taking the beginners’ chase in convincing fashion. Representing the in-form stable of Jessica Harrington, the 5-2 chance settled just off the pace for much of the journey, but moved up well to challenge early in the straight.

In front and travelling best over the last two, she quickened away to win readily under Robbie Power.

“She loves rattling off top-of-the-ground,” said Harrington. “Robert said her mistake at the second one in the straight was the crowing of her as she jumped great after that. She’ll probably take on the geldings next.”

There was an upset in the Malton Novice Chase, in which 4-11 favourite Sandymount Duke was beaten by The Winkler (4-1). The latter, trained by Eoin Doyle, was happy to sit just off the pace as the odds-on favourite and Festive Day set a decent tempo. Brian O’Connell asked the eventual winner to challenge at the second-last, and he quickened on late to win by almost two lengths.

The biggest upset of the day was reserved for the finale, in which 50-1 chance Pateen made a winning debut under Lisa O’Neill. It wasn’t a huge surprise to winning trainer Norman Lee, who thinks quite a bit of the son of Jeremy.

“I only have him four weeks, but it’s very easy to train a good one,” said Lee. “Anything we worked him with, he annihilated them. We knew coming here today he had a right chance, but it’s hard to be over-confident when they’re saying in the racecard that we haven’t had a bumper winner in five years, but we have now!”

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