CHAMPION jockey and Lisgoold native Paul Townend, who only returned from a troublesome foot injury at the beginning of the month, doubled up for outside stables at Cork on Friday to put him on the five winner mark for the new campaign.
He was deputising for the suspended Rachael Blackmore aboard Cheveley Park Stud’s French import Gloire D’Athon in the CorkRacecourse.ie Maiden Hurdle and it all went according to plan for Henry de Bromhead’s charge.
Always prominent, the hot pot was ridden clear before the final flight to beat the 50/1 outsider Rags Kitten by seven lengths. Gloire D’Athon was fitted with a first time tongue strap and his rider commented: “He had the experience and was entitled to do that. I thought the kindness in the ground probably favoured him and I’d say he’ll enjoy jumping a fence as well.”
The progressive Jeremy mare Rain In Spain, who is in foal to sire of the moment Walk In The Park, has been a good servant to the Charles O’Brien stable and clocked up the fourth win of her career when giving Townend his second win on the card in the Follow Us On Instagram Mares Handicap Hurdle.
Taking it up entering the straight, she stuck to her task well to defeat China Princess by four and a quarter lengths. Market leader Nodoubtaboutthat had to settle for the fourth spot.
Townend said on his return: “I couldn’t believe how ‘sweet’ she was and was told she’s in foal, so that makes sense. I couldn’t believe how well she travelled and, in fairness, I’ve always had a soft spot for her as she always comes up trumps and that’s my third win on her. I don’t know how long more she can race but I’d imagine they’ll keep her going for as long as they can.”
Dual bumper winner Carrarea was all the rage to make a successful hurdling debut in the opening Fermoy Maiden Hurdle but proved to be no match at the business end for the Jessica Harrington-trained 6/1 chance Ilmig who kept on best at the finish under Donagh Meyler to lift the spoils by half a length.
“I had plenty of spins for Mrs Harrington in the past as a claimer, but that’s my first winner for her. He did it really well, jumped and travelled everywhere and picked off the favourite up the straight. His experience was a big help to him.”
Doneraile handler John Joe Walsh always pays to follow at his local course and was on the mark with 14/1 chance Ricky Bobby who made a winning handicap debut in the Mallow Handicap Hurdle. Ridden by Ambrose McCurtin and ridden by his brother Raymond from Fermoy, the six-year-old took it up at the second last and had sufficient in reserve to contain the effort of market leader Rock On Seamie by one and a half lengths.
“He was third in a maiden hurdle in Clonmel in March, but has been a little bit disappointing all along,” the trainer’s son and assistant Brendan admitted. "We ran him on the flat in Tipperary the last day and I’d say he came to hand on the better ground today.
“He’ll run away in those kind of races and is a big horse who would like a big galloping track.”
Cloyne-based trainer James Motherway teamed up with 3lb claimer Dylan Robinson for a convincing three success with Robcour’s well-supported favourite Heroes Of Renown in the three-mile Follow Us On Twitter Maiden Hurdle. The winner is a half-brother to Death Duty and his trainer reported: “This was long overdue as we always thought he was a nice horse, going back to his early days.
“Unfortunately he had a little blip in between and had a problem with his knee which put him on the sidelines. He’s a genuine good ground horse and the ground was probably too heavy for him over the winter. This looked a nice opportunity for him and the plan is to go chasing, sooner rather than later. I’ll have a chat with his owner Brian Acheson and we might have a look at one of the handicap hurdles in Galway.”
Cathal Byrnes, who took over the licence from his father Charles, kept up his good run of success thanks to joint favourite Elusive Rain’s win for his mother Cora and brother Philip in the bumper. The four-year-old was backed from 7/1 in the morning in to 3/1, with the other joint-favourite Derracrin back in third.