Action switches to Downpatrick and Wexford

Tom Red On Friday there are two meetings including the first of a 2-day meeting at Downpatrick where there is also racing on Saturday and also at Wexford where there is a mixed card of 3 hurdle races, 3 flat races and a bumper.    On Friday there is a mixed card at Downpatrick of 3 hurdles, a bumper and 3 flat races confined to apprentice riders and on Saturday there are 3 flat races, 3 chases and a bumper.            Sunday sees a flat meeting at Leopardstown where the highlights are the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial run over 1m 2f and the Amethyst Stakes over a mile. Also racing at Killarney where they run the first day of a 3 day mini-festival starting with a mixed card.    The main race of the weekend is the Derby Trial and of the 12 left in both Aiden O’Brien and Dermot Weld holds over half the field with 4 and 3 entries respectively. Washington Irving for O’Brien and Winchester for Weld look likely to be the stable’s first choice.    Riding arrangements will tell the story and the Johnny Murtagh and Pat Smullen selections are expected to fight out the finish with Kevin Prendergast’s Moiqen who won the Ballysax Stakes last month beating Ballymore’s Hebridean by ¾l and John Oxx’s Katiyra. Take a chance with Moiqen to beat the heavyweights.  LAST WEEKEND: Leney Dow Jones showed no ill-effects from a second-placed run at Tipperary on Thursday and he turned out again on Saturday to win the Mullingar Handicap Chase over three miles and a furlong. The winner is trained by Adrian Murray, who only took out his licence a year ago, at Rathowen outside Mullingar and was giving him his first winner on the track. The 9-Y-O by Naheez gave Adrian his first winner in a point to point at The Pidgeons in April 2007.    The gelding won by five lengths, in hands of AP Cawley, with the favourite Twofan and Risk Beauty 3l back in 3rd.  It was Adrian Murray’s first winner on the track and was very special to him as it is his local track. LOCAL WINNER: On Monday the Slieve Ban Stables won the first division of the bumper in Down Royal with Snug Bunch ridden by Paddy Kennedy who is attached to yard of Dessie Hughes. This is Niall Moran’s first winner of the new season and here’s hoping a lot more will follow. She won snuggly from Buchaill Dubh and Hollywood Hills by 6l and 1¼l (see article elsewhere in the paper).    Niall Moran also ran Moscow Anne, in the colours of the Doomore Syndicate based in Sligo, in the 2nd division and she finished 8th in the 2nd division beaten only 8l. The 6-Y-O mare by Moscow Society out of Correal Princess did not get the clearest of runs and can be expected to improve on this run. One to watch! This one was also locally bred by John Geraghty from Correal.      Cecil Ross, who trains at Slanemore outside Mullingar, produced Doctor Woodfield to win the beginners chase in the hands of amateur rider Dan Foster at a big price of 20/1. There were a number of fallers in the race but the winner won well. NEW APPROACH CAUGHT ON LINE: In the 2000 Guineas on Saturday the favourite, Jim Bolger’s unbeaten Dewhurst winner, New Approach was mugged on the line by Aiden O’Brien’s Henrythenavigator giving a 1-2 to the Irish. Kevin Manning having virtually made all on New Approach was passed by Henrythenavigator superbly ridden by Johnny Murtagh in the last few strides but was fighting back on the line where a nose officially separated the pair. David Elsworth’s 100/1 shot was a further 4l back in 3rd ridden by Seb Saunders.   Now it’s on to the Curragh for the first 2 home and Round 3 with Jim Bolger looking forward to their third meeting in the Irish 2,000 Guineas on the 24th May. In the Group 2 Futurity Stakes at the Curragh last August Bolger’s charge won from Curtain Call with O’Brien’s horse 3rd 3l and a neck away. This is definitely a race to look forward to this early in the season and it will take some pundit to split the pair. O’Brien is looking at the Epsom Derby but the question is will the colt get 1 ½ miles?    On Sunday the 1000 Guineas the Pascal Bary’s French trained filly Natagora, led pillar to post, to fulfilled her promise and the 2nd of the English classics also went for export with J R Fanshawe’s home trained Spacious a brave second. Jim Bolger’s 20/1 outsider Saoirse Abu was third. The winner won by ½ l with the same separating the 2nd and 3rd. While the advice in the 2000 guineas was only out a nose the advice last week on the 1000 Guineas was spot on —  ‘this looks one for export to France with Natagora to win from Spacious’.   Ruby Walsh reached the fabulous milestone for an Irish based jockey of 1000 winners when getting the Dessie Hughes-trained Rare Article up on the line at Sligo on Sunday.   Ireland’s National Hunt jockey champion was only third and looked well beaten at the final flight, refused to give up and produced an excellent ride aboard the 11-8 favourite. The gelding is owned by the Papin Syndicate all based around Mullingar, The Van Beck brothers Louis and Stevie, Robert Fagan and Cyril Naughton who is well known around Kepak in Athlegue.   The runner-up Lady Lenson, who looked home and hosed, is owned by Ms M McSharry. Walsh returning to a Cheltenham style reception said: ‘When I started riding I never thought I would achieve 1,000 winners. It is a great milestone in my career.’ POINT TO POINT: This weekend there are 3 point to point race meetings with racing at Athlacca in Limerick on Saturday including an open lightweight over a banks course starting at 4.00.  On Sunday there are two meetings one in Cork at Ballindenisk, Watergrasshill and one on the local scene at Sligo which will be run inside the racecourse at the Cleveragh, both meetings start at 2.00.   On the local scene Flash Freddie, was 2nd again in Taylorstown to Coman’s Lad owned by Mickey Vaughan from Athlone.     Last weekend’s huge entry of 363 at Lisronagh outside Clonmel saw just 170 horses turn up and there were 11 races and the card was completed despite all fears to the contrary. Well done to all involved.    Galway native Derek O’Connor with 2 winners at Taylorstown on Saturday, 1 on Sunday at Farnenes and 2 on Monday at Dawstown moves onto 85 for the season as he seeks to become the first to ride 100 winners in a season with 4 weekends left. Jamie Codd with 2 at Taylorstown and 1 at Dromahane on Sunday is 17 behind on 68 and M J. O’Connor in 3rd on 44. There were trebles also for Jason McKeon and Kevin Power at Taylorstown.