WEXFORD RACECOURSE staged a good card in perfect conditions at Bettyville on Saturday, which featured just one locally-ridden winner.
Jordan Gainford was the one to deliver, while Willie Mullins had two wins and a second from just three runners.
Gainford, who is continuing to constantly impress, had to work very hard to win the Boylesports Handicap Hurdle and justify favouritism on Junior Bee (13/8) for Thurles trainer and owner, Mark Molloy. He went to the front four furlongs out and, after a thrilling battle with Barry Browne on Tullypole Annie (4/1), a strong finish by Gainford saw him get it on the nod by a short head.
Seán Flanagan got second in the opening mares’ maiden hurdle with a typically persistent effort on Itsaleader (6/1) for Garrett Power.
Though closing on the run to the line, he could not get to all-the-way leader and favourite Good As Hell (2/1) under Brian Hayes for Philip Fenton who held on by a length and a half.
Local contenders had to be content with a trio of thirds on the rest of the card. James O’Sullivan was 3/1 favourite on Philip Rothwell’s Prince Zaltar in the three-mile Injured Jockeys’ Fund handicap hurdle and was third behind Turbojet (10/1) for Ricky Doyle.
Winner with a storming finish was Robyndeglory (25/1) for rider and trainer Declan Queally who was only third at the last.
Willie Mullins and Paul Townend had the first leg of their double in the featured €17k Poolcourt rated hurdle over two miles one furlong with Authorized (9/2), which was out for two years through injury since his last win in 2019 and didn’t really pull up any trees in five runs in the past year. Mullins shows again why he is the master trainer.
He won snugly from Ambitious Fellow (3/1) for Kevin Sexton. There was a good run in third by Ellen Doyle’s (Baltimore Stables, Coolgarrow) Francois (11/1) under Donagh Meyler which finished well and was just a nose short of second.
Thomas Reilly, a young jockey from Co. Meath, had his second win from just three rides in the Jim Ryan Racecourses Services three miles one furlong handicap chase, and both were on Clonguile Way (17/2) for John McConnell.
He came through the field to win snugly. Third was Seamus Neville’s (Bridgetown) Brideswell (7/1), ridden by J.J. Slevin, finishing quite well.
Willie and Patrick Mullins had to accept second in the EBF mares’ bumper on Walk In The Brise (6/4) behind Beyond Ambitious (15/8) for a father and son team from The Naul in Dublin, trainer, owner and breeder David Harvey and rider Ben. She had run second in a €40k bumper at the Punchestown Festival, so this was no surprise.
It was a bit disappointing there were only four runners in the Freddie Doyle Memorial novice chase, but Mullins and Townend didn’t mind as they won with Genapathi (1/1f) by a length and a half on his chase debut after just one win in five hurdles. He won a protracted duel with Genois (9/4) under Mark Walsh for Enda Bolger and JP McManus.
They race again at Bettyville quite soon, on Wednesday, May 25.
Over the jumps at Clonmel on Thursday, I noted Latest Model (20/1) running in the colours of Jim Mernagh for ‘Shark’ Hanlon make a promising third in a two-mile maiden hurdle, on just a second run over timber.
J.J. Slevin was a well-beaten second on Prairie Dancer (6/4) for Joseph O’Brien in a novice hurdle, and Seán Flanagan was third of 15 on Liz Doyle’s Heathrow (5/1) in a two-mile handicap hurdle. Wexford connections drew a blank at Kilbeggan on Friday.