Monday 19 February 2018

Berry stays in title hunt with treble

Fran Berry kept up his challenge for the jockeys' title with a treble at Tramore last night.

With leader Pat Smullen riding in France and second-placed Johnny Murtagh in action in England, Berry grasped the opportunity to make up some ground on his rivals.

He kicked off his hat-trick aboard the John Oxx-trained O'Bella Ballerina (1/2 favourite) in the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden. A half-sister to classy performers Millenary and Let The Lion Roar, O'Bella Ballerina finally came good at the sixth time of asking with a short head verdict over Valbucca.

"My filly won despite not liking the ground," said Berry. "We went slow and I probably didn't make enough use of her. She got headed by a head or a neck about a furlong out but she battled back well. She is a very well-bred filly so it was important to get a bracket for her."

Berry then made it 58 wins for the year as Fammi Sognare (9/4) triumphed in the McDonald Brothers Handicap. Winning trainer Tony Mullins said: "For a heavy-set filly we thought she wanted a cut in the ground, but she's won twice on firm now so what we thought doesn't count. If it stays fast she'll go for another flat race.

"The plan though is to make a three-year-old hurdler out of her. She is tough and robust with a great temperament."

Mullins's Decoy Daddy completed Berry's trio with victory in the Maiden.

The Mervyn Torrens-trained Isabellareine (3/1) followed up her Galway win by landing the Handicap. "I don't know where she'll go now but any of those two-mile staying races are there," said Torrens. "She'll most likely go for a hurdle again though as long as the ground stays fast."

Meanwhile, Ruby Walsh has been given the all-clear to return to action at Roscommon tomorrow after being sidelined with a broken arm for four months.

The jockey sustained the injury in a fall from Celestial Halo in the Aintree Hurdle at Liverpool on Grand National day in April.

Sunday Independent

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