The feature on the evening card in Limerick was the Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle and recent Bangor bumper winner Rocco Bay made a winning debut over obstacles with a fine effort.
Mark Walsh’s mount was quite keen, but she found plenty for pressure to win quite comfortably for trainer Peter Fahey, who has won the last two finals of this series.
“She’s very consistent and when she came back in this season, this was her plan because she was qualified for all the bonuses,” said Fahey. “She’s getting 27 grand for winning today, which is unbelievable (€10,000 sales voucher, €5,000 fillies’ bonus, and €12,000 prize money).
“With her pedigree, I was keen to try win a bumper, so we slotted in England and hoped we’d get her back here for this, and it worked out great.
“She’ll tip away during the summer and hopefully she’ll nick a bit of black type somewhere along the way.”
A card of limited appeal was brought to life by gambles, both from the yard of Emmet Mullins, and the first leg of that particular double came up when Big Jim Dwyer obliged in the opener, the Tote Always SP Or Better At Limerick Claiming Hurdle.
As the clock struck one, the gamble began and within 20 minutes the ex-Keith Dalgleish-trained runner, having his first run for Mullins, went from 9-2 to a shade of odds-on. He was available at even money on course but eventually settled at 8-11, and duly obliged under Donagh Meyler.
A mistake at the fourth-last threatened, momentarily, to derail the gamble, but the six-year-old, who returned with a nasty-looking cut to his near-fore, was back on the bridle turning for home and found plenty for pressure to see off Eclair De Beaufeu.
In the same slot, between 1pm and 1:20pm, the price of Mullins’ Shiroccoville went from 11-4 to a shade of odds-on but he was pulled up before the seventh hurdle in the Your New Tote At Limerick Racecourse Handicap. Victory went to the Peter Carberry-ridden Rebellious Gale, who became Tony Martin’s second winner of the week.
There was a real upset in the Tote Guarantee On All Win Bets Mares’ Maiden Hurdle, in which the Gordon Elliott-trained Shesadream got the better of 2-9 favourite Walk On The Moone.
The crucial point of the race came before two out, where the runner-up was short of room and forced to switch wide for a run. Shesadream, who had cut little ice in three summer bumpers in 2021, jumped well at the second-last to take the lead and, after jumping last in front, Jack Kennedy’s horse held the renewed effort of the favourite by three parts of a length.
Paul Flynn saddled his second winner of the week when The Big Chap made most of the running in the first division of the SP Or Better Guaranteed With Tote Handicap Hurdle. Belying late weakness in the market (Industry SP 100-30, Betfair SP 7.18) he faced a strong late challenge from Good Bye Milan, who was turning out 24 hours after winning at Wexford, but found plenty to land the spoils.
In the second division of the handicap hurdle, Shean Glory gained a long-overdue victory with a gutsy effort under Phillip Enright. Mezyan presented a real danger when challenging at the second-last but when he made a mistake there, the leader asserted once more and put a first winning mark on her card at the 19th time of asking.
“She deserved that as she had been there or thereabouts in the past,” said winning trainer Sean Aherne. “In fairness to Phillip, he said I left her short the last day and said she’d improve a lot. He said he’d fancy her the next day, so he was fairly accurate. We’ll tip away on safe ground and you’d hope she might win another one.”
High City Roller was a beaten favourite on debut at Clonmel but the five-year-old, representing Willie and Patrick Mullins and owners The Peaky Blinders Syndicate, made amends in the Athea Bumper.
Victory continued the good recent run of the winner’s family as one half-brother, Tom McGreevy, won a Ballinrobe maiden hurdle earlier this month, and another, High Stakes, won a Worcester Novice Hurdle a fortnight ago.