Sunday 28 May 2017

Mixed fortunes for O'Brien clan

Alexander Pope, with Joseph O'Brien up, romps to victory in theChristmas Parties At Dundalk race yesterday. Photo: Healy Racing
Alexander Pope, with Joseph O'Brien up, romps to victory in theChristmas Parties At Dundalk race yesterday. Photo: Healy Racing

Thomas Kelly

MIXED fortunes for the O'Brien clan yesterday, with father Aidan having to wait another week to learn his punishment over the 'Cape Blanco affair' at York and son Joseph riding two winners at Dundalk.

The Ballydoyle supremo has had to wait a long time over the controversy which erupted back in May when his subsequent Irish Derby winner, Cape Blanco, landed the Dante Stakes.

The trainer was initially charged with "acting in a manner prejudicial to the conduct and/or good reputation of racing" after instructing his employee, Pat Keating, not to trot up the horse in front of the British Horseracing Authority's veterinary officer and the senior racecourse veterinary surgeon as part of their examination of the colt after his Dante success.

That charge was later amended, and O'Brien admitted to "acting in a manner prejudicial to the conduct of horseracing in Great Britain" at a disciplinary panel hearing which concluded yesterday, as well as two other charges of encouraging and/or causing Keating to refuse to comply with two instructions given by the York stewards.

Keating also admitted to being twice in breach of Rule (B) 83 regarding his failure to comply with the instructions.

The BHA's disciplinary panel heard representations on behalf of all three parties and will now consider the issue of penalties with an announcement anticipated next week.

At the time, O'Brien explained that he had refused the request to submit the colt to a second veterinary inspection as he was worried Cape Blanco had suffered a recurrence of an injury and was being prepared for a flight home.

Horses of Cape Blanco's class were not in evidence at Dundalk yesterday, but that didn't stop Joseph -- or his father -- from both recording a double, yet it could have been even better for the young jockey.

In the opening juvenile maiden, his father saddled two horses and the title-chasing apprentice chose to ride joint favourite Pirate Chest.

However, it was the other Ballydoyle runner in the race -- Last Crusade, ridden by Sean Levey -- which proved strongest up the straight as he got the better of O'Brien's mount by a length.

Father and son did form a winning partnership in the next race as 2/7 favourite Alexander Pope proved a facile seven-length winner of the two-year-old conditions race.

O'Brien Jnr's second winner proved much more of a challenge as he gave Mr Pianist a fine front-running ride to take the 12-furlong handicap for trainer Eddie Harty.

The jockey was denied a treble by Mick Halford's track specialist Banna Boirche. Riding Anam Chara in the mile handicap, O'Brien looked to have stolen a march on his rivals when kicking clear early in the straight.

But Shane Foley was alive to the threat aboard Banna Boirche and he got his mount to quicken impressively in the final furlong and record a neck success. This was the Halford-trained four-year-old's sixth victory at the all-weather venue.

With just one fixture remaining, O'Brien Jnr now finds himself two winners behind joint leaders Ben Curtis and defending champion Gary Carroll in the race for the apprentices' crown.

Meanwhile, one title race is already over, with Pat Smullen regaining the Flat title after he secured a double at Dundalk yesterday. Successful on Hawa Bali in the 10-furlong handicap for Paul Deegan, Smullen led all the way aboard the Harry Rogers-trained Elusive Ridge in the concluding conditions race.

This moved him eight winners ahead of nearest rival Fran Berry and there are only seven races scheduled for the all-weather track tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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