WEXFORD EYES watched with added interest at Chepstow on Saturday as Paul Carberry steered 'Monbeg Dude' to Welsh Grand National glory.
Bred in Tipperary by Hilary O'Connor, ' Monbeg Dude' won a Nenagh point-to-point on its January 2010 debut for Ballindaggin owner Eamonn Doyle and Kiltealy-based trainer Colin Bowe. He got into the Brightwells sale at Cheltenham six days later on a wild-card entry and rugby player Mike Tindall bought him for £12,000, on a drunken night out.
Tindall was playing for Gloucester on Saturday and so missed his horse getting the better of AP McCoy on board 'Teaforthree', the 11/4 favourite. However, his team-mate and fellow owner, James Simpson-Daniel, filled him in on the victory at half-time. A shrewd move by the rugby star, and I imagine there are many people who will admit making far less lucrative purchases after having one too many!
On a more poignant note, Adamstown-based trainer Moses McCabe said an emotional goodbye to one of his most faithful servants when 'Tequila Lord' had to be put down last week. The eleven-year-old, sired by 'Lord Americo' and out of 'Tequila Sunshine', had run 37 times over rules races, winning once and being placed on a number of occasions.
He was last seen on New Year's Eve at Punchestown in the Derekoneill.com Handicap Steeplechase where he appeared to be in with a winning chance approaching the second last until something went awry, leading to him being put down a couple of days later. The 'Lord' served the Last Hope Syndicate of local Wexford punters well and it was a sad ending to what has been an exciting adventure over the past few years.
Trainer Charles Byrnes has given 'Solwhit' a clean bill of health after his fine comeback at Punchestown behind ' Bog Warrior' on New Year's Eve, and is looking towards entering the six-times Grade One winner in the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas on January 19, although he says he will need to have a look at the conditions of the race before confirming his participation.
He is also toying with the idea of running him in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park over three miles, which takes place on January 24. The Top of the Hill Syndicate-owned nine-year-old also has an entry in this year's BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown, on January 27, a traditionally tough encounter that could see him line out against Willie Mullins' formidable 'Hurricane Fly'.
Paul Nolan's 'Joncol' was a non-runner (stone bruise) in the Grade 2 Slaney Novice Hurdle at Naas, won by the Mouse Morris-trained ' Rule The World', which was the plan before a likely attempt at winning a second Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on February 12.
Joseph O'Brien's excellent 2012 championship-winning performances earned him the distinction of being voted the Irish Independent's Young Sportstar of the Year for the second time in succession, a feat that is only emulated by Katie Taylor.
Indeed, Wexford jockeys have been firing over the past week.
The new year got off to a flying start for John Cullen as he rode 'Waydownsouth' (9/1) to victory in the David Flynn Construction Maiden Hurdle, his first winner for trainer Pat Flynn, at Tramore's first meeting of 2013.
New Ross jockey Jimmy Quinn was in good form across the water with three victories in the past week, at Kempton on Wednesday on board 'Irene Kennet' (25/1), on Friday at Wolverhampton where 'Kames Park' (7/1) scored for trainer R.C. Guest, and at Lingfield on Saturday where 'Conducting' (5/1) was first past the post.
Tom O'Brien has been tasting victory with winners at Fakenham on New Year's Day aboard 'Minella Special' (7/1), 'Ballygarvey' (9/4) for Philip Hobbs at Lingfield on Friday last, and 'Cridda Boy' (11/4) at Wincanton on Saturday.
'Doonard Prince' (9/1) impressed for trainer Elizabeth Doyle in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Race & Stay Handicap at Dundalk under the guidance of Michael Cleere on Friday night. On Sunday, at Plumpton, Daryl Jacob bounced back from the disappointment of the controversial ten-day ban that saw him miss out on the Christmas action to steer 'Rocky Elsom' (6/1) to victory in the Follow At The Races On Twitter Handicap Hurdle.
'Sacre Malta', who gave young rider Conor Walsh victory for mother and owner, Betty, at Limerick over Christmas, was found to be lame after pulling up two flights from home at Punchestown on New Year's Eve where he was hotly fancied to score again.
And finally, it was interesting to read in ' The Irish Field' this week that a representative from the BBC's drama department got in touch with the newspaper's HQ asking if they could source old copies of the paper from the 1950s to feature in a new drama series based on books written by Wexford author John Banville, under the alias Benjamin Black.
The series will be called 'Quirke' and centres around a pathologist (played by Gabriel Byrne) investigating the deaths of people that are sent to his office. There will be only three episodes in the series and the old copies of 'The Irish Field' will reportedly feature in two of them.