BETTYVILLE WILL hopefully host the final race meeting of the year in Wexford racecourse on Wednesday, December 5. With a seven-race card down for decision, racing opens at 12.15 p.m.
This is the re-scheduled meeting which was postponed on November 20 following torrential rain. The ground will most likely be on the heavy side of soft and hopefully racing can be staged on this occasion.
Weather indications suggest that a dry spell over the next few days will see the meeting getting the green light. With new entries, this meeting has a completely different complexion to it than the one on the expected day.
The Rosslare Hunters' Steeplechase has only 14 entries on this occasion and the two-mile, six-furlong contest should be fought out between 'Merchant Royal', 'Salsify' and 'Tammys Hill'. If they all stand their ground at declaration stage it promises to be an interesting contest.
The Garyrichard Handicap Steeplechase, run over the same distance, could well go to Phillip Rothwell's 'Ard Agus Fada' who has good course form to his name, and he might just see off Daryl Deacon's 'Miss Palm' if they decide to run her here.
The other chase on the card could go to Paul Nolan's 'Panther Claw' who should see off Tony Martin's consistent horse 'King Of The Refs'.
Three of the four other remaining races will be run over hurdles, with Willie Mullins holding an extremely strong hand at entry stage. It might be wise to see who he nominates for the Mount Leinster Maiden Hurdle and the Saltee Island Mares' Novice Hurdle.
The same trainer also looks like holding a strong hand in the concluding Mares' bumper with 'Shake The Tree' and 'Beluckyagain'. The day's most valuable race is the Gorey Handicap Hurdle and this two-mile contest could well fall to 'Speed Dial' who is reasonably well treated at the weights.
REVIEW OF THE WEEK
Colin Motherway has long been recognised as one of the most stylish jockeys in the current crop. He proved this again at Navan on November 25 when he booted home 'Joanne One' for Jerry Burke and John Kiely. This four-year-old daughter of 'Vinnie Roe' added greatly to her pedigree when winning the Mares' Listed Bumper at the meeting, with the 7/1 shot easily holding off Eoin Banville's 'Fickle Fortune' who was the second favourite.
Thurles staged an all-Steeplechase card on November 29, and Colin Bowe took the opportunity to win a division of the Handicap Chase with 'Whiskey And Red'. This seven-year-old 'Craigsteel' gelding justified joint favouritism under Brian Cooper when seeing off two of our local jockeys, John Cullen and Robbie Moran.
BETWEEN THE FLAGS
With all local eyes very firmly on the Lingstown meeting, Seán Finn sent 'Vinnieslittle Lamb' to Boulta in West Waterford. Booking the reigning national jockey champion, Derek O'Connor, Finn's decision was justified when the four-year-old 'Vinnie Roe' mare won the second division of the Mares' maiden. Bred by the intrepid Lorcan Allen and owned by a syndicate based in north Wexford under the banner of the Morris Syndicate, this mare stayed on well to indicate strong hopes for the future.
All roads next week will lead to Ballydarragh where the Island Hunt meeting will be staged on the land of the Kenny family. With this meeting being one of three in the country, it's going to be a busy day for horses, jockeys and owners as they try to select the best venue for a run.
Brightwells held a breeze up and hit sale at Cheltenham at the November festival meeting. It had a really strong local interest when 'Need To Talk', trained by Davidstown-based Alan Dobbs, who had won a point-to-point at Ballinboola earlier in the month, was sold for £230,000 sterling.
Dobbs celebrated his first winner with this horse at this meeting so he must have been really chuffed to be involved with this sale. The four-year-old son of 'Kings Theatre' has now moved to the British yard of Phillip Hobbs - from Dobbs to a Hobbs and it only cost £230,000!
Denis Murphy must also have been pleased to get £85,000 sterling for his 'Heron Island' four-year-old 'Sail By The Sea' who was also bought by Brookhouse.
Racing: December 5, Wexford; December 6, Clonmel; December 7, Dundalk (e); December 8, Navan; December 9, Cork, Punchestown; December 12, Dundalk (e); December 13, Gowran Park; December 14, Dundalk (e); December 15, Fairyhouse; December 16, Navan. Point-to-point: December 9, Island Hunt (F), Louth (F), United Hunt (F).