JOCKEY Eddie O’Connell proved the undoubted star of the show at Downpatrick yesterday, completing a superb 1529/1 treble on Breeze With Ease, Lake Return and Sebadee.
Kildare man O’Connell, a key figure in James Lambe’s operation, was consolidating his position as the country’s leading claimer and bringing his seasonal tally to 17.
Breeze With Ease, described by his trainer as “tricky” after the race, landed the Premier Bakeries Handicap Hurdle in unusual circumstances, having edged ahead at the second last flight.
Headed early on the run-in, the six-year-old looked well held as Market Watcher and Colin Bailey edged into a lead of almost three lengths. But, as the leader edged to his left, O’Connell summoned an extra effort from Breeze With Ease which saw Lambe’s charge get up close home to score by a neck.
The winning trainer, having reached a career milestone of 125 winners, commented: “This fellow is tricky. He missed the start a bit and hit the front a bit early. He has to have things his own way but, in fairness, he found a bit extra for Eddie coming up the hill. He has always shown plenty at home but, as you saw, isn’t straight-forward.”
O’Connell, followed-up when bringing 33/1 shot Lake Return, owned and trained in Tramore, County Waterford by Pat Flavin, from last to first to foil Closesthingtocrazy in the Britvic NI Beginners Chase.
The winning trainer was represented by his son John, who hopes to take over the licence early next year, and who explained: “This horse shows ability at home, but he’s always very keen in his races, so I told Eddie to get him relaxed and take his time. We only have eight horses in training at the moment and it’s great to have a winner off our new gallop.”
O’Connell completed the second treble of his career on board Sebadee, formerly trained by John Murphy and making a successful debut for Curragh handler Ken Condon. The six-year-old was a lucky ‘spare’ for O’Connell, deputising for Andrew McNamara who was shaken and stood down for the day after a fall from Garlough in the opening maiden hurdle.
On his chasing debut, Sebadee edged ahead before the second last, avoiding a loose horse, before stretching clear to beat Strolling Home by seven lengths, prompting in-form Condon to comment, after a rare chase success: “I only have this horse six weeks. He’s flat-bred and not very big but he jumps well and stays.”
The Colin Bowe-trained Let’s Go Sunshine proved a popular winner when justifying strong favouritism in the Proctor & Gamble Maiden Hurdle, the six-year-old relishing every yard of the two miles and seven furlongs as he stayed on strongly to slam Golan Guy by nine lengths. Let’s Go Sunshine was gaining his reward for consistent placed form and, in the absence of trainer Bowe, winning rider Barry O’Neill said: “He needs a test of stamina and jumps well. This was ideal, because he just keeps galloping. He’ll make a nice staying chaser.”
Favourite-backers were also on the mark when Wee Giant, trained by Willie Mullins for his sister Sandra McCarthy, justified 5/6 favouritism in the Tayto Maiden Hurdle. Held up by Ruby Walsh, recording his twelfth win of the season, the four-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding tracked the leaders before launching his challenge going to the final flight. And, when Walsh got stuck into him early on the run-in, he swept past Karkari before forging clear to triumph by five lengths.
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