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Wexford jockeys warm up for big week

Gainford, Slevin and Flanagan all on the winning trail

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Members of Bronsan Racing with jockey J.J. Slevin and their Joseph O’Brien-trained winner Solness at Leopardstown. Photograph: Patrick McCann/Racing Post.

Members of Bronsan Racing with jockey J.J. Slevin and their Joseph O’Brien-trained winner Solness at Leopardstown. Photograph: Patrick McCann/Racing Post.

Fortunefavorsdbold and Seán Flanagan lead over the final flight as they win for trainer Paul Nolan at Limerick on Sunday. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Racing Post.

Fortunefavorsdbold and Seán Flanagan lead over the final flight as they win for trainer Paul Nolan at Limerick on Sunday. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Racing Post.

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Members of Bronsan Racing with jockey J.J. Slevin and their Joseph O’Brien-trained winner Solness at Leopardstown. Photograph: Patrick McCann/Racing Post.

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GOWRAN PARK survived the poor weather early on Saturday, with racing going ahead on soft to heavy going.

Jordan Gainford got off to a winning start in the opening maiden hurdle when Gordon Elliott’s Abbeydale (11/2) battled on gamely to repel the odds-on favourite, Raglan Road (8/13), for the De Bromhead-Blackmore pairing.

The two horses pulled well clear of the rest. The favourite loomed up at the second-last travelling like a winner, but Gainford’s mount responded to pressure and kept finding more for a gutsy success.

J.J. Slevin came close in the Boylesports handicap hurdle as he conjured a good finish out of Early Arrival (20/1) for James Barcoe but failed by a neck to reel in Ardera Ru (14/1) which provided a local win for Mooncoin trainer, Eoin Doyle.

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Seán Flanagan also had to be content with second in the day’s feature, the €45,000 two-mile handicap chase, on David O’Brien’s Minx Tiara (13/2), two and a quarter lengths behind outsider, Grange Walk (20/1). Flanagan did not have the clearest run; he hit the front after the last but was caught close to home.

Colm Murphy’s Macs Charm (3/1) had to accept second six lengths behind hotshot Aint That A Shame (8/13) which completed a double for De Bromhead and Blackmore - their horses appear to be hitting form just in time for Cheltenham after a less than stellar start to the year. Gars De Sceaux (10/3) was a distant third for Elliott and Gainford.

There were some good pots on offer at Naas on Sunday, and J.J. Slevin got his share when taking the €22k handicap hurdle on Carnfunnock (7/2) for Stuart Crawford, in the colours of Munir and Souede.

He pipped Seán Doyle’s Lucky Max (7/1) by a nose on the line.

The €100k Leinster National was won by Barry Connell’s Espanito under Mikey O’Sullivan and his horses are in great form, with a couple going to Cheltenham with realistic chances.

Grade 1 novice hurdle winners, Marine Nationale and Good Land, are fancied in the opening races on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Paul Nolan, fresh from a double at Wexford last Sunday week, struck again at Limerick on Sunday with Fortunefavorsdbold (14/1 into 10s) under a strong Seán Flanagan ride, seeing out the three miles well in the soft going. This was Flanagan’s 20th winner so far in an injury-shortened season.

The racing week began at Leopardstown on Monday, and J.J. Slevin was on the mark for Joseph O’Brien on Solness (4/5f) in the beginners’ chase, holding off a pair of Gordon Elliott runners. He was four and three-quarter lengths ahead of Hamundarson (13/2) under Jordan Gainford.

Benny Walsh has been having a good time of it lately and he rode Philip Rothwell’s Galon De Vauzelle (5/2) into second in the John Thomas McNamara handicap chase, behind Battle of Mirbat under Adam Ryan.

Daryl Jacob must have had his heart in his mouth when he suffered a couple of falls at Ayr on Friday, one of them on a money-on favourite.

Coming so close to Cheltenham, where he will have a good book of fancied rides, this was far from ideal, but he seems to have escaped unscathed and had a ride at Naas on Sunday.

There were some victims of the weather over the weekend, with the Thurles meeting on Thursday re-scheduled for Monday, and Navan was called off on Saturday.

On the flat, Donagh O’Connor kept up his good run on the all-weather at Dundalk on Friday night aboard John McConnell’s bargain buy, six-year-old Kingman (10/3f), which changed hands for 1,000 Guineas in October, 2021. He held off Benavente (4/1) by a neck as the Ross man’s seasonal tally reached 13.

Pat Dobbs had a winner at Jebel Ali on Saturday for regular trainer Doug Watson on board National Bank (11/2), getting up by a neck from 14 rivals.

P.J. McDonald had a good-priced win at Southwell on Thursday on Too Much (12/1) for James Horton in a one-mile handicap.


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