Cork's Michael Winters and Jody Townend back in the limelight

Cork's Michael Winters and Jody Townend back in the limelight

Klassy Kay and Jody Townend win the Slaney River Ladies Handicap Hurdle. Picture: Healy Racing.

IT was fantastic to see Michael Winters back in the winners’ enclosure again this week at the summer jumps.

The Kanturk-based handler had to travel all the way to Downpatrick with his quirky Arizona Flyer who justified his odds of 9/2 favourite.

The Fame And Glory mare travelled sweetly for jockey Chris O’Donovan during the race itself, improving from behind the leaders to hit the front at the last and racing clear, preceded by a loose horse, to win by two and a quarter lengths.

The hard part had been getting her to line up, as she had refused to race on a previous visit to Downpatrick and needed plenty of cajoling to take part on this occasion.

Winters said: “Breeding breaks out anywhere through the eyes of a cat! She’s a half-sister to Tornado Flyer and Hurricane Run is close up in the family. She started out that way the first day out, with the jockey having trouble below in Gowran Park two years ago. We got well-facilitated here, they do give them a chance to start. She’s the quietest thing at home, she is like a lamb.

“We showed her the race before and she danced around a little bit. Next time we might not show her the race before, but look, she is well-bred. Chris (O’Donovan) is our amateur jockey and he knows her very well. He works hard with the horses. He claims 7lb and we were delighted he got his turn. She could be retired after this summer, I’d imagine, unless she turns the corner.”

Arizona Flyer and Chris O’Donovan win the Toals Handicap Hurdle. Picture: Healy Racing.
Arizona Flyer and Chris O’Donovan win the Toals Handicap Hurdle. Picture: Healy Racing.

Elsewhere, Jody Townend rode out her 7lb claim and continued an amazing recent run (five wins from her last eight rides) when taking the Slaney River Handicap Hurdle aboard KIassy Kay at Wexford on Wednesday.

Townend, recording her 25th career win, said, “She was a dream ride and settled today which she hadn’t done on her last few runs. She gave me some spin and jumped like a buck. She was holding position everywhere and I got a nice run down the hill as well. She had her ears pricked going up to the line. That’s my first winner over obstacles for Willie and that’s the end of my 7lb claim now.”

EXTRAORDINARY

Meanwhile, two Irish-trained horsed, Poetic Flare and Love, lit up Royal Ascot this week.

It was an extraordinary performance by Poetic Flare who routed his rivals by five lengths to take the St James Palace Stakes in a breath-taking victory. Jim Bolger’s charge had won the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier in the season, run respectably in the French equivalent on soft ground and then been touched off by stablemate Mac Swiney in the Irish version.

On the other hand, Love had to dig deep in the Prince of Wales Stakes to see off Audarya by a diminishing half a length. It was her first run of the season, and she will be heading to Paris later in the year for a tilt at Europe’s premier race the Prix de L’arc de Triomphe.

Love and Ryan Moore win for trainer Aidan O’Brien at Royal Ascot. Picture: Healy Racing
Love and Ryan Moore win for trainer Aidan O’Brien at Royal Ascot. Picture: Healy Racing

One of the unsung heroes of Irish racing is 54-year-old Jockey Kevin Manning who guided Poetic Flare to arguably the finest victory of her career this week. Always in the right place in these big races, Manning had the son of Dawn Approach in the box seat throughout and in truth the result never looked in any doubt as soon as he moved his partner into a challenging position. The veteran rider waited until a furlong and a half out before pushing the button and the response was immediate. The 7-2 favourite shot clear and crossed the line four and a quarter length clear of Lucky Vega.

The Ballydoyle/Coolmore team have always been very sweet on Love and Aidan O’Brien’s exceptional filly made all to win the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

A dual Classic winner at three, Love was ridden by Ryan Moore and returned an 11-10 favourite, followed on from Duke Of Marmalade, So You Think, and Highland Reel, who also won the day-two feature at the royal meeting for the master of Ballydoyle.

O’Brien said: “She is going to come on a lot for the run. We’re over the moon with her. She’s very genuine and brave. Ryan Moore was trying to win and do the right thing for her. All the races are open to her. The King George, the Eclipse, all of them.”

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