Connacht National delight for Byrnes
CHARLES Byrnes took yesterday's inaugural running of the Connacht National Handicap Chase at Roscommon when his Campbonnais landed the spoils.
Of the 16 runners which set off on the three-mile journey, only six managed to complete the course. Given an assured ride by Philip Enright, Campbonnais improved through the field to dispute the lead from four out and never saw another rival from there as he was pushed out to score from Beneficial Spirit.
The 13/2 joint favourite, Model County Lass, which was under pressure from a long way out, finished a further 12 lengths back in third. Ah Ya Boy Ya, backed from 10/1 into 7/1 on course, crashed out three from home when still in with a chance.
"In my opinion, Philip is one of the best jockeys around off that weight. I was expecting a big run on that sort of ground," Byrnes said afterwards.
"He will go for the Midlands National at Kilbeggan now as his owner (Michael O'Leary) will be keen to have a runner there. He disappointed around there before, but I think he is sweeter this year."
The opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Median Auction Maiden produced an exciting finish, with Ben Curtis just getting favourite Sportsmaster up for Andrew Oliver to deny Sam Bass by a short head.
Curtis went on to record a double when driving the Denis Hogan-trained Norah Starr to a short-head victory from Shanrod after a thrilling finish.
Seamus Heffernan was another jockey in double-winning form thanks to wins aboard Tom Hogan's Blackwitch Woman and Table Mountain from the Robbie Hennessy yard, while Jessica Harrington supplemented her success on the Flat at Cork with Alpine Eagle's victory under Andrew Leigh in the novice chase.
"I was worried about the trip but it didn't matter in that ground. He will go in summer soft but he wouldn't like winter soft," said Harrington.
Meanwhile, Ryan Moore warmed up for Royal Ascot in the best possible fashion by riding a 687/1 five-timer at York on Saturday, and he then followed up with a double at Salisbury yesterday.
The three-time champion jockey will be the envy of everybody else in Berkshire this week as he rides the best of Aidan O'Brien's and Michael Stoute's horses.
It was Stoute who provided him with three of his York scorers, the most significant of which was Sea Moon (4/6f) in the Give Generously To Macmillan Handicap. Stan James were impressed enough to cut him to 10/1 for the St Leger at Doncaster on September 10.
"He's been off a long time and was a bit slow getting going. He was slow out of the stalls and the pace wasn't that strong," said Moore of the winner, which is related to Leger winner Brian Boru and Derby hero Workforce.
"It took a while for the penny to drop -- he hasn't really had a race before -- and we just ground it out. He's got potential, but still has a fair way to go."