Four-legged hurdlers help Derval get into 2012 Olympic stride
THOSE New Year's resolutions were being broken at every furlong.
Pints, chip-van visits and dalliances with the bookmakers helped kick off 2012 at a busy meeting at Fairyhouse, Co Meath.
One race-goer on her best behaviour, however, was sprint hurdler and Olympic hopeful Derval O'Rourke as she revealed she wouldn't do anything to jeopardise her London 2012 dream.
"I've had soup and a big coffee, so that's not too good I suppose," the athlete laughed.
The former world indoor champion will give London 2012 her all after suffering appendicitis in Athens and battling bronchitis in Beijing.
"I was still training at Christmas. I was at a wedding as well so it was good fun and I was down in west Cork for a few days. I'm headed to Spain next week for warm weather training," Derval said.
"I've qualified now so everything is centred around the Olympics. I'm good 80pc of the time and not so good 20pc of the time -- Christmas was the 20pc of the time. I ate a lot of chocolate and Roses."
For Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, the year got off to a flying start as the aptly named Dont Back Down won the first race. Jockey Paul Carberry afterwards joked: "Best horse I've rode all year."
Next it was the turn of Limerick businessman JP McManus to get a quick return on his investment, as trainer Christy Roche revealed he'd sold the winner Woodville Lady to Mr McManus a week earlier.
And Kildare trainer Dessie Hughes had his eyes glued to the television screen at home where he was resting following a back operation, as the well-backed Frisco Depot won the Ratoath Community Beginners Steeplechase of €12,000 in a tight race.
His daughter Sandra said: "This will cheer him up."
Jockey Bryan Cooper admitted it was tough going out on the course, which organisers had deemed 'soft to heavy'. "I wouldn't be mad about the ground," he said.
"Come on the Dubs," came the roar from the winner's enclosure as the 4-1 shot Osirixamix finished first past the post for trainer Tony Martin.
And just before the rain fell, hot favourite The Westerner Boy romped home with Patrick Mullins aboard to end the day on a good note for punters. More than 3,500 people turned up to enjoy the opening meet.
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