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James nabbed on line in Ballinrobe


The J.J. Slevin-ridden Darkened scores at Kilbeggan on Sunday. Photograph: Patrick McCann/Racing Post.

The J.J. Slevin-ridden Darkened scores at Kilbeggan on Sunday. Photograph: Patrick McCann/Racing Post.

The J.J. Slevin-ridden Darkened scores at Kilbeggan on Sunday. Photograph: Patrick McCann/Racing Post.


IN A week that was dominated by the exit of Seán Flanagan as stable jockey to Noel Meade after seven years, there were six pretty average jumps meetings, with Wexford connections having a quiet enough time of it.

The Ballinrobe two-day meeting was the highlight, with two valuable races on Tuesday.

There was heartbreak in the €30,000 McHale Mayo Handicap Hurdle for Rob James on ‘Shark’ Hanlon’s Hewick (9/4f). They had picked up the £160k Sandown Gold Cup on their previous outing and there was confidence behind them here which looked like being justified.

They looked like winners over the last but Hewick lost a shoe over the final hurdle and James was nabbed in the final stride by Philip Enright on Metersandmasks (11/2) for Charles Byrnes. Enright was cautioned for excessive whip use.

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The highlight was the €60,000 McHale Mayo National, the richest horse race in Ireland this week.

Willie Mullins pulled off another coup with bottom weight Rock Road (12/1 in the morning into 4s), ridden by Kieran Callaghan, a young seven-pound claimer.

He cruised home by six and a half lengths from Ilikedwayurthinkin (10/3f) for Mark Walsh and Gavin Cromwell.

Seán Flanagan coaxed a great run out of twelve-year-old veteran Peregrine Run (33/1) for Peter Fahey to pick up a tidy €6,000.

J.J. Slevin had his ninth winner in May the previous evening when he made all to romp in by 16 lengths on Joseph O’Brien’s Prairie Dancer (1/1f).

James O’Sullivan got second in the two-mile six handicap hurdle on Glenmalure Lodge (14/1) for his boss, Philip Rothwell (Tinahely), despite being squeezed for room, with Seán Flanagan third on Chapel Street (8/1) for Cork trainer James Hennessy.

The action moved to the two-day meeting at Tramore on Friday and Saturday, and Jordan Gainford took the Friday opener on Mater Matuta (15/2) for Laytown (Meath) trainer E.D. Delaney, but that’s as good as it got for the Wexford connections.

James O’Sullivan took second on Liz Doyle’s Tom McGreevy (4/1) in the two-mile handicap hurdle, while Toni Quail from Enniscorthy took second in the ladies’ pro-am bumper on Moresby Buoy (18/1) for Dermot O’Brien.

On Saturday, Seán O’Keeffe was second on Mighty Meggsie (11/4) in a two-mile beginners’ chase, a long way behind Mi Lighthouse (7/2) for Paul Townend and Willie Mullins.

Punchestown banks star, Singing Banjo (5/2f), took third for the Walshes from Ballyday in north Wexford in the two-mile five handicap chase – he probably needed farther as he is an out and out stayer.

J.J. Slevin scored on just his second ride since Ballinrobe when guiding Killinure Lass (8/1) to victory for Brian McMahon (Clare) in a three-mile handicap hurdle at Kilbeggan on Sunday in a tight finish that saw less than a length between the first three.

It was much easier for Slevin when he doubled up on Darkened (8/1) for Denis Hogan in a two-mile handicap hurdle, pulling eight lengths clear.

In the concluding bumper, Tiernan Power-Roche (Tomhaggard) was a distant second on Noel Dooly’s (Davidstown) Down Around (28/1 from 66s), behind Jody Townend on Uncle Phil (4/9) for Willie Mullins.