Fine Galway treble
Flanagan and Bowe shine out west
Day one of the two-day Wexford Festival meeting was held in bright but bitterly cold, showery conditions at Bettyville on Sunday and it was reasonably well attended in the circumstances. Locals recorded five seconds in the eight races, four of them for trainer Paul Nolan.
The big Wexford story was actually at Galway where Seán Flanagan rode a treble, two of them for Colin Bowe who had a 210/1 double.
Flanagan and Bowe began the day on a high note with a 20/1 success for Western Victory over a J.P. McManus favourite, Getaway Katie Mai (11/10). It was the mare's first run over hurdles and she could have a bright future.
They doubled up in a three-mile fundraising hurdle for breast cancer research with Sweet Home Chicago (9/1), cruising home after the hot favourite, Wicklow Brave (2/7), fell under Ruby Walsh early on.
Between these, Flanagan completed his treble with one for his boss, Noel Meade, Tout Est Permis (15/8f) coming home six lengths clear.
Also in Galway, Liz Doyle was second in the bumper with well-backed Miss Cedille (5/2) under Finny Maguire. Harley Dunne was in front when his mount, Beautiful Betsy, careered off at a bend midway through.
It was Casey Concrete Day at Wexford as the Gorey and New Ross-based firm put their product names on seven of the eight races. The Casey brothers have long been very good supporters of racing in the county.
It was a good day for favourite backers, seven of them obliging. Paul Townend had a treble, and two of them were for Willie Mullins who had five winners from the two meetings.
Paul Nolan's string is coming into form and he had four seconds and will be worth watching. These included Jim Mernagh's Lady of the Sea (13/2) in the handicap hurdle, and Peculiar Genius (10/1) in the day's €25,000 feature, The Casey Precast Handicap Chase, both under Bryan Cooper.
Cressus de Grissay (10s from 25s) was second for Nolan in the beginners' chase under Seán O'Keeffe from Taghmon, beaten just a length by Shark Hanlon's Peacocks Secret (9/4f) in his first race for 15 months, and the pair were second in the bumper with Mernagh's Positive Outlook (7/1).
Fiveaftermidnight (9/2 into 3/1) was second under Camolin's James O'Sullivan for Philip Rothwell in the mares' hurdle.
Next week I will have details of any local success at yesterday's (Monday) final meeting of the year.
Aidan O'Brien won the final Group 1 of the year in Britain on Saturday, the Futurity Stakes, for the ninth time.
His Magna Grecia (2/1) survived a stewards' enquiry after a driving finish under his son, Donnacha.
It was a good day for Aidan as he had a lower profile double at Leopardstown with Happen (5/1) in a fillies' maiden, and I Remember You (7/1) in a fillies' nursery.
He was also second in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint Cloud in France with the outsider of his two, Sydney Opera House (17/2), beaten a neck by Wonderment (19/1).
Aidan returned to Chantilly in France for two Group 1s on Sunday. Hermosa looked set for victory but was collared by Godolphin's Royal Meeting in the last hundred yards, and in the Prix Royal Oak, Flag of Honour and Ryan Moore were victims of a freak incident midway through when the horse tried to run out when crossing a roadway on the track, going from first to last.
They did well to get back in contention and finish fifth.
O'Brien also had second in the Group 1 Manikato sprint in Australia on Friday with Spirit of Valor under Oisín Murphy who got a massive 14-meeting ban for careless riding.
The big focus next weekend will be on the Breeders Cup meeting in America when O'Brien will be hoping to add to his 13 Group 1s for the season.
On the home scene, O'Brien had a treble at Thurles on Thursday in the only three races he contested, with Mona Lisa's Smile (7/1), Constantinople (4/11) and Madrid (11/8f), and he won at Gowran on Tuesday with Albuquerque (6/1).
Jim Bolger is ending the season strongly and had a big double at Leopardstown on Saturday in the €63,000 Group 3 Eyrefield Stakes with Guaranteed (9/2) and in the €47k Listed Knockaire Stakes with Smash Williams (5/2f), both ridden by Kevin Manning.
In Britain, P.J. McDonald is back in top form and driving in big priced winners - Full Intention (10/1), Victoria Drummond (14/1), Big Baby Bull (8/1), and Reeves (11/2).
Over the jumps, Tom O'Brien won with Ripplett (evens) and Mount Vesuvius (9/1), and Daryl Jacob won with Delire D'Estruval (5/1) at Carlisle.
New Ross Standard