Muskova leads De La Rue over the last at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day

Tom Red Firstly let me wish all readers a very Happy and hopefully a very successful punting New Year. Highlight of the Christmas programme was Kauto Star staying on track for the £1m bonus at Kempton on St Stephens day by adding the King George Chase to his Betfair win for trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Ruby Walsh, the Cheltenham Gold Cup awaits. The pair of astute horsemen then crossed then Irish Sea to win the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown with Denman on Friday. Ruby, all staying well, will have some choice to make next March.  On Stephen’s Day at Leopardstown the stars of the show were Eddie O’Grady and Andrew McNamara who complete a treble when Skys The Limit won the Durkan Grade 1 Novice Chase, adding to Tranquil Seas win in the Maiden Hurdle and Shazand in the Handicap Hurdle. The pair were desperately unlucky not to make it 4 on the day when Peplum, with the race well in hand, crashed out at the last hurdle in the 2nd Div of the Mdn handing the race on a plate to Jessica Harrington’s Taravada. It was good to see that lovely mare Lounaos make a successful return to action at Limerick in the Tom Hogan Lexus Hurdle for trainer Eoin Griffin and jockey Barry Geraghty.  Thursday’s action saw Mansony win the Grade 1 Chase from Nickname and Schindlers Hunt with Sean Mulryan’s In Compliance in 4th. In the handicap hurdle Willie Mullins’ Share Option came home ahead of Offshore Account and is owned jointly by Tom Gilligan from Loughglynn.  Also on Thursday Shadow Of The Wind, a 4-Y-O mare by Bob’s Return trained in Waterford by Henry De Bromhead for the Demure Syndicate headed by RTE’s Colm Murray won the Mares Bumper in Limerick. Having her 3rd outing the mare was held up towards rear and after making headway from 5 out she was travelling well under Mr David Roche in 2nd turning for home won comfortably by 8l from Tally Em Up with Kerman 3½l further back in 3rd. A natural jumper she will probably now go for a Mares Winners Bumper before tackling hurdles. She is definitely one for your note book for 2008. On Saturday Al Eile won the Bewleys December Festival Hurdle on the final day of Leopardstown’s Christmas festival. Given a perfect ride by Timmy Murphy the John Queally trained and Michael Ryan owned beat the gallant Hardy Eustace by a length in the two mile Grade 1 race with favourite Jazz Messenger a neck adrift in third. Hardy Eustace was bidding for the £1m bonus treble having beaten Al Eile in Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth. The third leg is the Cheltenham’s Champion Hurdle. On the local scene Eamon Flanagan’s Alberoni finished 5th in Down Royal on Stephen’s Day and turned out again to finish 3rd in Tramore on the 31st in a race that provided the main talking point of the festive season.  There was utter chaos when in the Newtown Chase over 2m 5f the 14 riders rode out a finish with a full circuit to go. Andrew McNamara aboard the fav Mr Aussie thought that there was a full circuit to go but had doubts when all around him were riding out a finish. Even the judge and the commentator called the result. All horses pulled up after the false finish before Andrew McNamara, Davy Russell, Tommy Treacy, Barry Cash and Sean Flanagan realised their mistake, continued on their way and completed the race. Only that McNamara and Russell realized the mistake before leaving the track the race would have been void.   Also Sean Mulryan’s I’m Still Standing won the bumper on the 26th at Leopardstown for Michael O’Brien and was ridden by his son-in-law Denis Cullen Tom Gilligan’s Shady Willow, trained by Willie Mullins, won the Bewleys Bumper on Saturday in the hands of Willie’s son Paddy. New Years Day saw racing at Fairyhouse and Tramore. There were some great finishes at Fairyhouse none more that in the when Muskova got up on the line to beat De La Rue by a short head after a ding dong battle from the last with Due Respect 15l back in 3rd. The winner was ridden by Paddy Flood for Paul Nolan and Davy Russell was aboard the runner up for Charles Byrne. Hard as it is to believe it was 28 years since Dessie Hughes trained Church Island to land the ‘First Crack’ Maiden Hurdle at Fairyhouse and record his first winner as a trainer. Hughes won the race again this year with the well named Fond Of A Drop ridden by Davy Russell at a packed Fairyhouse on New Years Day.  At Tramore jockey David Casey got the New Year off to a great start riding the first three winners, Major Sensation in the Novice Hurdle and Plaisir D’Estruval for Arthur Moore and in between Mister Whazisname for Henry De Bromhead. He also rode the ill fated favourite Our Ben for Willie Mullins in the Wilf Dooly Chase who unfortunately crashed out of the race at the 2nd last when upsides the winner Knight Legend trained by Jessica Harrington and ridden by Barry Geraghty. Carrigeen Kalmia was 2nd and Galway specialist Ansar trained by Dermot Weld was 3rd well beaten in conditions totally unsuited to him.  After the hustle and bustle of the festival racing Irish racing this weekend is on at Cork on Saturday and Naas on Sunday.    Between the flags Derek O’Connor started the new season as he finished with a treble at on the 30th December at the Duhallow’s meeting at Dromahane bringing his total for the season to 33 winners. In the second division of the 4-Y-O Maiden he rode By The Hour trained by Robert Tyner to victory, following up with a win in the Confined Maiden on Irish Alpha trained by P. C. O’Connor and in Div 1 of the 5-Y-O Geldings Mdn on Carrleoni trained in Galway by John Neilan. The Galway man looks to be on the way to another record season barring any hiccups. Jamie Codd kept track of Derek with a double also and is in second place on 19. This weekend sees the first meeting of 2008 at in Cork starting at 12.30. There are 171 horses entered and with divisions there could be up to 8 races to be run. Comments to horses.forcourses@yahoo.com