Following a near two-week break, the national hunt season resumed on Tuesday of last week at Tipperary. There was an eight-race card at the ‘Junction’ venue and the Philip Fenton- trained Good As Hell won the featured Tipperary Town Plate Handicap Chase. The eight-year-old mare Good As Hell atoned for unseating at the final fence when virtually guaranteed of success on her previous start at Wexford in late June by leading from after two out with Bran Hayes and then asserting in the closing stages to see off Jack Holiday by an increasing eight lengths.
The James Moran-owned Good As Hell was incidentally recording her third career success at this same venue and she’s now likely to receive a small break with a view to returning for the Listowel festival in September. Willie Mullins struck with Inclusion in the Racing Again Tomorrow Beginners Chase.
The Shirocco-sired Inclusion, a point-to-point winner last year when under the care of Ian McCarthy, supplemented her victory in a Downpatrick maiden hurdle back in October by making the best of her way home from before two out with Paul Townend to beat How Decc by 13 lengths. Inclusion, owned by James and Jean Potter Limited, is now likely to be upped in grade and she should prove worthy of following with interest over the coming months.
There was also flat racing at Roscommon on Tuesday and, fresh from his Irish Derby success aboard Auguste Rodin at The Curragh two days earlier, Ryan Moore made his initial visit to the Connacht track a winning one by landing the featured Irish Stallion Farms EBF Lenebane Stakes aboard Aidan O’Brien-trained Espionage.
The seasonal debutant Espionage, a Curragh maiden winner last September that then finished second in a French Group 1 contest at Saint-Cloud the following month, was always positioned close to the pace on what was his initial three-year-old start and he struck the front on entering the final furlong to dismiss Young Ireland by one and a half lengths. It’s likely that Espionage could now contest the Group 2 Voltigeur Stakes at York late next month whilst he also holds an entry in the Irish St Leger over one mile six furlongs at The Curragh in September.
It was then back to Tipperary for a flat fixture on Wednesday evening and Tullahought native Hugh Horgan teamed up with handler John Feane to collect the Botanica International Apprentice Handicap over the minimum trip of five furlongs aboard Havana Notion. The three-year-old Havana Notion vindicated the promise of his most recent fifth-placed effort at Down Royal last month by picking up the running on entering the final furlong and he was always containing favourite Mymomentime thereafter, a length the ultimate winning margin.
The three-day Tipperary meeting concluded with a jumps programme on Thursday evening and Dunamaggin-based handler Ray Cody’s Watch The Weather destroyed the opposition under Rachael Blackmore in the two and a half mile Pierce Motors Handicap Hurdle. The seven-year-old Watch The Weather, a dual winner over hurdles within the space of four days in August of last year, justified a strong degree of market support from 11/1 into 15/2 on-course by easing to the front before two out to dispose of Shanwalla by an unextended nine lengths in the colours of Galwegian Sean Connors. It’s likely that Watch The Weather will now be aimed at next month’s Galway festival whilst he’s also likely to be despatched over fences at some stage.
The featured event was the €70, 000 Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle over two miles and Gordon Elliott’s Fils D’Oudairies sprung a major surprise here under Jack Kennedy.
Fils D’Oudairies, winner of his most recent start over hurdles at Ballinrobe in late May, was always positioned on the pace with the victorious eight-year-old moving to the head of affairs before two out to outpoint odds-on favourite Sharjah by two and three quarter lengths.
This was Fils D’Oudairies third career success for Elliott, having previously been under the care of Nicky Henderson amongst others, and the French-bred is now likely to be aimed at next month’s Galway Plate.
The first-stage of the three-day Bellewstown festival took place on Thursday evening and Carrick-on-Suir based handler Kevin Coleman kept his supporters happy by sending out Fleetfootsoldier to collect the Champion Lettings Handicap for three-year-olds’. Fleetfootsoldier went one better than he did on his previous start on the all-weather at Dundalk in late March by picking up the running with Nathan Crosse inside the final 150 yards to thwart Lasting Peace by two and a quarter lengths in the colours of his handler’s mother Mrs Eileen Coleman.
It was then onto Wexford for a jumps fixture on Friday evening and Ray Cody continued his rich vein of form by saddling Fancy a Cosmo to triumph in the opening Shamrock Enterprises Maiden Hurdle under Donagh Meyler.
The 104-rated Fancy A Cosmo, who was placed on his previous two starts over hurdles, assumed command approaching two out and he bounded clear in the closing stages to dispense with Sutton Hill by an increasing 14 lengths. The Pints & Bubbles Syndicate-owned Fancy A Cosmo will now be aimed at a hurdle race at the forthcoming Galway festival.
Henry de Bromhead’s Ballyadam justified favouritism in the MSK Silversands Beginners Chase. Whilst this race attracted just four runners, it still served up a terrific finish with Ballyadam storming to the front after the last with Rachael Blackmore to defeat Hubrisko by one and three quarter lengths in the familiar Cheveley Park Stud silks.
By doing so, Ballyadam was atoning for finishing second on his previous start in a Ballinrobe beginners chase in late May. De Bromhead meanwhile continued his present rich vein of form by sending out Hand Over Fist to oblige in the first division of the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle at the third stage of the Bellewstown festival on Saturday evening.
Hand Over Fist, who shaped with clear promise by coming third in on his previous start in a two mile five furlong Tramore handicap hurdle on June 3rd , was positioned at the head of affairs virtually throughout with the victorious six-year-old edging ahead for Mike O’Connor inside the final 75 yards to deny Navigator Jack by a half-length.
Navigator Jack’s Slieverue-based handler Eoin Griffin was earlier on the mark as he struck with Wouldn’t You Agree in the featured €45, 000 Bar One Racing ‘Bellewstown’ Handicap Hurdle. A 20/1 chance, the Mark McDonagh-ridden Wouldn’t You Agree hit the front at the final flight and he was always containing runner-up Set Point on the run-in with three parts of a length the winning margin. It’s possible that Wouldn’t You Agree could now be seen in action at next week’s Killarney festival.