Thrilling racing at home and abroad

Horses for Courses Tom Red On Friday evening there are 2 meetings, an all-flat card at Navan starting at 5.55 and a national hunt card starting at 5.45 in Clonmel and on Saturday there is an 8 race national hunt card at Limerick with an evening start at 5.30.    Then on Sunday there is flat racing at Cork with a 2.25 start and on Monday racing returns to the west with evening racing and a mixed card at Ballinrobe. Stalls open for the first at 5.20.    In England at the big classic meeting in Epsom the Oaks on Friday was won by 33/1 English outsider Look Here, trained by Ralph Beckett and ridden by Seb Saunders. The filly kept the prize at home, winning by 3¾l from one of Aidan O’Brien’s outsiders Moonstone, at 25/1, ridden by Richard Hughes, son of Irish trainer Dessie, with John Oxx’s Katiyra, 9/2, another 2¾l back in 3rd. Jim Bolger’s well fancied favourite at 5/2 Lush Lashes finished a disappointing 5th. Beckett has practically ruled out a bid for the double at the Curragh on July 13th as he thinks it will come too soon for his filly. A more likely target will be the St. Ledger at Doncaster in September.   Forty minutes earlier Aidan O’Brien got the Irish off to a great start at the meeting when last years Irish Derby winner Soldier of Fortune under Johnny Murtagh won the Coronation Cup from Mick Channon’s Richard Hughes ridden Youmzain with the winner’s stable mate McArthur 3rd with Seamie Heffernan in the plate.   In the Derby on Saturday New Approach fully justified Jim Bolger’s decision to run when under a terrific ride from Kevin Manning, the trainer’s son-in-law, he came with a run through the field to win by ½ l from the Sir Michael Stoute trained Tartan Bearer ridden by Ryan Moore with Dermot Weld’s Casual Approach a further 4½l back in 3rd. One of Sir Michael Stoute’s other runners Doctor Fremantle was in 4th another 1½l behind. Despite being supplemented on Monday at a cost of Stg£75,000 Paul Cole’s River Proud did not take his place.   Unlike the Oaks winner Jim Bolgers colt will try for the double at the Curragh on June 29th. The son of Galileo is odds on ante post favourite for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby where he will probably meet Tartan Bearer and Casual Approach again.   Complete outsider Maidstone Mixture trained by Paul Murphy, who had won a race over hurdles in France, trailed in last. Following complaints Epsom racing director Andrew Cooper said there was little that could be done to prevent further no-hopers contesting next year’s Derby as it emerged that Maidstone Mixture’s owner Fergus Wilson already has two horses engaged in the 2009 Classic.   Wilson has made a habit of running rank outsiders in races such as the Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, saw his first runner in the Derby, Maidstone Mixture, finish tailed off after leading for the first seven furlongs of the race. Under the rules which see entries for the race made when horses are untried yearlings it is difficult to see how restrictions of any kind can be made.         There was disappointment for the Irish in the French version, the Prix de Diane, at Chantilly on Sunday when Jim Bolger’s Prima Luce finished 10th with Aiden O’Brien’s Kitty Matcham in 12th of the 13 runners. The race was won by the favourite Zarkava trained in France by Alain de Royer-Dupre and ridden by Christophe Soumillon beating Andre Fabre’s Gagona ridden by Johnny Murtagh and Freddie Head’s Goldikova ridden by Olivier Peslier by 3l and 1½l. The winner will now go for the Arc with a prep race over 1m to 1m 2f which means she will miss out the Curragh.   Last weekend saw the annual 2-day June meeting at Lenebane which is covered in detail by Kevin Hussey elsewhere this week.    There was glorious weather and those in attendance on Family Day on Sunday could be forgiven for wondering if it was Ladies Day On Sunday as the first two winners were trained by Tracey Collins and Joanna Morgan. The first race was won by a short head for Tracey when the Pat Shanahan gave the filly, 9th in the 1000 Guineas at the Curragh, a brilliant ride to get up in the last stride by a short head. Again in the second Pat Smullen brought home the Joanna Morgan trained Funatfuntasia in a flying finish by a similar margin. Joanna had an across the boards double when D’best won the 2m 1f handicap chase at Cork completing a three timer.   Watch out for the winner of the Beginners Chase, Salford City, trained by Gordon Elliot in Kilmessan, Co. Meath who will run in Saratoga in an American hurdle race in August. After his win Gordon said that this win will pay for the trip. The horse will not be a stranger to the US as he has already spent 2 seasons over there. He is also entered in the €17,577.00 2m 3f Conditions Chase at Limerick on Sunday and if he takes his chance he will take beating on this run.   On Sunday punters had the better of the exchanges with the layers with 5 of the favourites and a 2nd favourite winning 6 of the 7 races.   On Monday it was a different kettle of fish with only 2 favourites winning.        On Saturday night Big Brown attempt to complete the American Triple Crown failed miserably in the Belmont Stakes at Belmont track. The colt running without steroids, legal in some states, finished last of the 9 runners. The race was won by one of the complete outsiders Da’ Tara trained by Nick Zito and ridden by Alan Garcia. The 3-Y-O colt led pillar to post and was driven clear with 2f to go and never looked like being caught. Denis of Cork was 5l behind in 2nd with Ready’s Echo a further 2¼l back in 3rd.   Trainer Zito is used to ending Triple Crown bids having trained 36/1 shot Birdstone to beat Smarty Jones also at odds on in 2004.     If Big Brown had won the Triple Crown it would have been tainted by the fact that his trainer Rick Durrow frequently uses a steroid called Winstrol. This substance is legal in a lot of racing states in the US but the use of steroids is now likely to be banned throughout the US next year as a result of the negative publicity involving Big Brown, including the death of the filly Eight Bells, who finished 2nd to him in the Kentucky Derby who broke down in her 2 front legs after the finish.    Talking to Derek O’Connor, leading jockey at the point to point races this season, he intends to continue riding as an amateur for the time being and is looking forward to next season between the flags. It is understood that Jamie Codd runner-up in the championship also intends to stay as an amateur next season. Roll on September and a resumption of their battles.   It was noticed that Derek was sporting a nice bruise on his nose which after a full season riding over 15 to 16 fences up to 9 or 10 times every weekend he, believe it or not, incurred playing hurling.  horses.forcourses@yahoo.com