The Listowel festival occupied centre stage last week and Waterford city-born jockey David Casey brought down the curtain on his 20-year riding career at the north Co Kerry track on Wednesday by steering Willie Mullins’ long odds-on shot Long Day to a resounding success in the Ballygarry House Hotel Novice Hurdle. The 144-rated Long Dog, sent off a prohibitive 1/6 shot to beat his three opponents, in truth had little more than an exercise canter and he made all the running to defeat Collen Beag by nine and a half lengths.
Casey (39) meanwhile returned to a rapturous reception which wasn’t at all surprising as he has been a permanent fixture on Irish racecourse ever since partnering his initial winner for Willie Mullins at Tramore in June 1995.
Casey will now commence his new role assisting Willie Mullins and the ex-jockey will now be accompanying the Closutton maestro’s Max Dynamite to Australia for his assault on the Melbourne Cup in early-November.
The featured event of the entire week at Listowel was the Guinness Kerry National Handicap Chase on Wednesday and the €105, 250 first prize went to the ‘Mouse’ Morris-trained Rogue Angel.
Running with the aid of both blinkers and a tongue tie, the seven-year-old was always in a prominent position with talented three lb claimer Ger Fox except that the pair seemed destined for second spot when headed by the sweet-travelling Urano before the final fence.
Rogue Angel however was in no mood to be denied and he stayed on gallantly to lead quite literally on the line en-route to accounting for Urano by a short head in the familiar Gigginstown House Stud silks of RyanAir supremo Michael O’Leary.
Dungarvan owner Michael D Ryan was present to see his homebred filly Sr Cartage win the Seamus Mulvany Handicap in the hands of Kevin Manning.
The Jim Bolger-trained Sr Cartage made all the running and she asserted inside the final furlong to repel Snakes And Ladders, who made a quick re-appearance to win 24 hours later, by three lengths.
On Thursday, the main event at Listowel was the Ladbrokes Island Handicap Hurdle over two miles and Windgap-based handler Garrett Power came very close to winning this valuable contest as his Galway festival winner Lilly The Lioness was only beaten a nose by Misty Lady.
The six-year-old mare Misty Lady led until she was overtaken at the second last. Tenacity however is Misty Lady’s definite strong suit and she reassumed command as the line approached to edge out Lilly The Lioness and The Nutracker in a gripping three-way finish in the hands of Sean Flanagan. Misty Lady is trained by former jockey John Cullen who only announced his retirement from the saddle at the Galway festival in July. This was actually Co Wexford native Cullen’s very first winner since hanging up his boots and he now tends to a 20-strong string at Kilmeague in Co Kildare.
Just four horses lined up for the closing bumper and Fugi Mountain sent punters home on good terms with themselves by justifying 2/5 in the hands of trainer Willie Mullins’ son Patrick.
The five-year-old Fugi Mountain responded to his partner’s urgings by surging to the front a furlong out and he duly had little difficulty in beating main market-rival Its’afreebee by three lengths.
On Friday, the Waterford contingent had further cause for celebration as Sr Cartage became the only horse to win twice at the meeting by landing the L.M. Carey & Company Handicap over a mile and a half.
Sr Cartage once again benefited from front running tactics and she stylishly asserted for Kevin Manning from the two-furlong marker to dismiss Cocoon by four and a half lengths.
Sr Cartage came into this race with a 67 rating and in her present form, she could well run up a sequence between now and the end of the flat season.
On Saturday Henry de Bromhead struck with Sizing Codelco in the opening Allman Contracts Limited Beginners Chase.
Sizing Codelco, a horse with chasing experience last season, made his way to the front with Johnny Burke after the fourth last and he seemed to be containing Vincent Halley’s Mr Picotee when the latter crashed out at the penultimate obstacle.
The six-year-old Sizing Codelco was then left clear to beat Rock On Fruity by eight lengths and the likelihood is that the Flemensfirth-sired winner should show even further progression over the months ahead.
Buster Dan Dan was quite simply a joy to behold in the MJ Carroll ARRO Handicap Hurdle. On what was his first start for Carrigtwohill-based handler Terence O’Brien, Buster Dan Dan made all the running and he skipped clear off the home turn to beat Master Appeal by four and a quarter lengths in the hands of Adrian Heskin. The diminutive Buster Dan Dan is clearly suited by carrying lightish weights, he raced off 10-6 here, in good class handicap hurdles and he should be followed with interest wherever he goes especially if racing left-handed.