Enright helps Irish steal a march
With an increasing number of Irish riders infiltrating the opposition ranks, it is maybe no coincidence that the travelling team has assumed a commanding lead in the annual Irish versus Australian jockeys' challenge Down Under.
Then again, having shaded 22 of the last 36 encounters, this being the 26th successive time it has been held in the southern hemisphere, maybe that's to put too fine a point on it.
Paul Townend -- champion jump jockey here in 2011 -- Dunmanway-based Philip Enright and conditionals Declan Bates and Ben Dalton recently set out to reclaim the crown that was ceded last year.
Donal MacAuley, Tom Ryan, Johnny Allen and Bobby Molloy were all compelled to explore the revitalised Australian jumping scene in recent years due to a collapse in the number of horses in training in Ireland, and they were joined by Shane Jackson, champion conditional here in 2007, just a few weeks ago.
Whether or not the resident emigrants' local knowledge played a part in the visitors' excellent early showing is unclear but Enright, in edging Back Tracks home by a nose -- his first winner on the Flat -- at Murray Bridge yesterday helped the Irish team to a 10.5pt to 7.5pt advantage in the opening leg of the three-part series.
Dalton finished third on his mount and Townend fourth. Given that the runner-up in the race was ridden by a chap called Arron Lynch, it might not be stretching the imagination that he is also of Irish extraction.
Tuam native Ryan -- who topped the conditionals' pile here in 2005 and has plundered some of Australia's biggest prizes since relocating -- was encouraged to make the switch 18 months ago having first sampled racing Down Under on two previous trips as part of the visiting Irish team.
With that in mind, then, this year's sortie might yet prove a recce of sorts as well, given the ongoing contractions that continue to thwart the domestic industry. As it is, the test concludes at Morphettville's big Irish Day meeting in Adelaide on Saturday.
"That was my first time coming out of starting stalls, so naturally I was thrilled to get home first," said Enright of his triumph after surviving a stewards' inquiry that was initiated by connections of Dalton's mount.
"The final two races are on Saturday and all the corporate tickets have been sold out, so we are looking forward to a great atmosphere."
As was the case on the previous 25 trips, Sean Lynch -- father of jockey Andrew -- is the Irish team captain.
An Aussie export that has twice made the journey in the opposite direction is Starspangledbanner, and Aidan O'Brien has given the former top-class sprinter the option of stepping up to seven furlongs in the Park Stakes at Doncaster on September 15.
More importantly, O'Brien's Triple Crown-seeking Camelot was one of six Ballydoyle entries that stood their ground for the same day's St Leger. Of 16 entries in total, John Gosden, who has won the Classic the past two years and four times in all, is responsible for five, led by his brilliant Irish Oaks heroine Great Heavens, Shantaram and Thought Worthy.
Camelot is a best-priced 4/9 favourite to add to his victories in the 2,000 Guineas and the Epsom and Irish Derbies, with Great Heavens and Shantaram next best at 10/1.