“With the year I’ve had this is very special,” said trainer Mouse Morris after watching Rogue Angel battle back bravely to snatch victory in the Guinness Kerry National, when the Listowel Harvest Festival resumed yesterday afternoon.
On-track disappointments pale in comparison to the devastating loss of his son, Christopher, who died while on holiday in Argentina, in June. But Morris, emotional in the aftermath, was deserving of a change of luck in a feature event, having gone to close in the Irish National and, more recently, the Galway Plate.
Jockey Ger Fox set out to make the running aboard the 8-1 chance and the pair maintained an advantage until turning for home for the last time. Soon afterwards they looked in trouble when stable-companion Rule The World edged ahead racing to the second-last, but both looked set to settle for minor roles when Urano galloped to the front approaching the last.
A good jump looked to have sealed the deal for the last-named, but Fox galvanised Rogue Angel and got his mount back up in the last stride to snatch victory from Urano, who traded 1-50 in-running.
Said Morris: “He’s an out-and-out stayer, a horse I thought might win the four-miler at Cheltenham, but everything clicked into place today. I honestly didn’t know if he had won – I presumed he was second, but somebody was looking after me today.”
Added Fox: “To win a Kerry National is unbelievable. He ran a blinder over two and a half miles here on Sunday, and needs further. In fairness to him, he put his head down and gave everything – I can’t believe how much he found on the run-in.”
The race was tainted by the fatal injuries to Lots Of Memories and Owega Star, trained, respectively, by brothers Peter and Paul Fahey.
Jockey David Casey drew the curtain on his riding career when directing long odds-on favourite Long Dog to victory in the Ballygarry House Hotel Novice Hurdle. The result was rarely in doubt as the 1-6 chance, trained by Willie Mullins, readily maintained his unbeaten record over hurdles.
Said Casey: “I had a good partner, he did everything right – jumped and travelled - and was the best horse in the race. I want to thank Rich and Susannah Ricci as well as Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh for letting me ride the horse.”
The highlight on the flat programme was the listed Edmund & Josie Whelan Memorial Listowel Stakes, and Devonshire ended a run of consistent but luckless efforts with a well-deserved success. Jockey Billy Lee kept it simple aboard the Irish 1000 Guineas third, sitting behind the early pace set by Queen Of Alba, before moving to the front on the turn for home. The classy filly quickly opened up a decisive advantage, one which was never threatened.
Said winning trainer Willie McCreery: “I was getting anxious about her because the poor auld devil had been getting placed, placed, placed, but I was delighted to see her get her head in front.
“She was in some form today. She fought hard when beaten by Algonquin at Killarney, but things didn’t go right for her last time. Billy jumped her out here and sat her in a lovely position behind Queen Of Alba. There were no complications, she didn’t mind the ground, and is a very honest filly.”
Asked if she might stay in training for next year, McCreery added: “With a filly like that you’d hope so, because she’ll get me to the big days.”
The Ken Condon-trained Pinwood foiled a couple of gambles when making a winning debut in the opener. The gelded half-brother to Group 3 winning sprinter Waady asserted late to beat the gambled-on Laws Of Spin (10-1 to 7-2) and Silvercups with something to spare.
Winning rider Shane Foley said: “We’ve always liked him, and were quietly confident of a big run here. He probably doesn’t want quick ground, but should improve quite a bit for the run.”
The Michael Mulvany-trained Dew Line earned his stripes with a convincing victory in the Listowel Arms Handicap, comfortably seeing off the challenge of favourite Tudor City.
Sr Carthage, who won her maiden on heavy ground at Gowran Park in May, clearly revels in testing going, once again evidenced by her all-the-way victory in the Seamus Mulvaney Handicap.
Alan Fleming looks to have a smart sort in the shape of Tully East, who attacked his obstacles in great style en route to an impressive victory in the MSD Animal Health Maiden Hurdle.
“He had good form, and his second run was particularly good,” said Fleming. “He has grown since, is much more settled now, and should go on from this.”
Jockey James O’Sullivan recorded his first victory inside the rails aboard the Tony Mullins-trained Cloghala in the two-and-a-half-mile bumper.
Said Mullins: “James rides out for me, and I was impressed the way he rode this horse. We won’t ask the horse to go for a winners’ bumper, we’ll look at a maiden hurdle instead. He’s been slow to come to hand, but has come on a lot in the last few months, and is a nice staying prospect.”
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