Former champion Ruby Walsh kept punters happy at a sunny Cork last night when doubling-up on well-backed Roman Flight and odds-on favourite Simenon in the opening two races.
An easy winner of his maiden hurdle over course and distance in January and dropping in class after a creditable third to Alderwood in a Grade 1 novice event at the Punchestown Festival, the Willie Mullins-trained Simenon made short work of his seven rivals in the Friday Evening Racing Hurdle.
Always travelling sweetly, the five-year-old Marju gelding was allowed edge ahead turning for home and, soon in command, strode clear to slam Dazzling Susie by fifteen lengths.
The winning rider commented: “This horse had form with plenty of good horses, like Trifolium, form that gave him a great chance tonight against a number of opponents that are on the way down. It’s beautiful ground out there. They’ve done a good job and he loved it.”
Walsh’s task on the Charlie Swan-trained Roman Flight in the opening corkracecourse.ie Maiden Hurdle was less straight-forward.
In front at the third last, where favourite Maxim Gorky crashed (his rider Davy Russell was stood down for the rest of the evening with an injury to his left hand/wrist), Roman Flight showed clear signs of quirkiness in the closing stages, wandering left and right before hanging left on the run-in, in addition to being awkward at the second last.
Winning trainer Swan said of the four-year-old:, “He tried to run out in Roscommon last year but, at home he doesn’t show any of those tendencies. I told Ruby to let him stride on once he was happy to go. But, after that display, he won’t be hitting the front as soon the next day. He looked a real brat out there. We’ll have to decide whether he’ll go a for a winners’ race or a handicap now, and he could go back on the flat at some stage.”
Having come up against it a couple of decent Willie Mullins-trained novices — Loch Ard and Terminal — in his previous outings over hurdles, the Jessica Harrington-trained Beachdale Lad made it third-time-lucky over hurdles when justifying 9/4 favouritism in the Friday July 13th BBQ Maiden Hurdle.
Ridden by Tommy Treacy, Beahdale Lad made most of the running and survived some dodgy jumping before scoring well, prompting his trainer to comment: “He deserved that after two good runs and is still green, as some of his jumping showed. He’s only five and won’t go over fences until next year. But that’s where his future lies.”
Successful at Wexford and Punchestown and up a total of 26lb. in the ratings, the Oliver McKiernan-trained Whatever Jacksays completed his hat-trick when making all under Robbie Colgan in the Niall McCarthy Memorial Handicap Hurdle.
McKiernan explained: “He’s as game as a gander, a great little horse. I was worried about the big weight and the shorter trip. But it was no bother to him. He deserves a break now, before we head for Galway.”
Baresi, trained by John Long, followed-up his recent Clonmel win (landed a substantial gamble) when bolting up under Rob Jones in the second division of the three-mile handicap, the first division having gone to Robert Tyner’s Boss Croaker, ridden by Philip Enright.
Gavin Sheehan, on a flying visit home from England, where he rode four winners last week and works for Charlie Mann, guided the Ivor Kingston-trained Iron Duke to a shock, all-the-way win in the Corkracecourse On Twitter Handicap Hurdle.
David Kelly, based outside Fethard, County Tipperary, saddled his first winner when Hilltop Tommy (20/1), ridden by Pa King, landed the bumper.
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