Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Hamilton joy but McCoy's parting shot draws blank

Tony McCoy aboard Thomas Edison for his last race at Fairyhouse
Tony McCoy aboard Thomas Edison for his last race at Fairyhouse

Thomas Kelly

Tony McCoy failed to score on his final two rides in Ireland at Fairyhouse but another northerner was on the mark with Downpatrick trainer Brian Hamilton taking the day's most valuable prize.

Hamilton's Jimmy Two Times edged ahead after a thrilling three-way finish to the INH Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Novice Handicap Hurdle Series Final.

Pleasant Company was a well-supported 11/8 favourite on his first start for the Willie Mullins team and he arrived on the scene travelling ominously well in the hands of Ruby Walsh two flights from the finish.

However, Jimmy Two Times (7/1) was moving equally well on the far side of the track under Declan Lavery, while Fine Article was in there pitching between the pair. There was little to choose between the trio as the post loomed, but Lavery's mount found most for pressure to take the prize by a neck.

"The three miles is right up his street and all he does is stay," said Hamilton. "Declan gave him a brilliant ride. You have to ride him up against the rail to stop him jumping right and being there you need a bit of luck to get a run.

"If the ground is not too quick he could go to Punchestown but we'll have to see how he comes out of this. I think he'll improve for another year as he's still immature. That's my biggest winner."

There was no fairytale ending for McCoy on what was likely his last ride in Ireland as Galway Hurdle hero Thomas Edison finished well beaten in the Handicap Hurdle. Making his first appearance since his day in the sun in Ballybrit last July, Tony Martin's charge travelled well for a long way before weakening from the home turn.

Clondaw Warrior looked set to provide Willie Mullins with yet another winner when going clear after the final flight, but he was reeled in on the run-in by the Tom Mullins-trained Some Article (20/1), which got up by a neck.

McCoy, who received a huge ovation when shaking hands with racegoers in the paddock, said: "It's sad that this is my last day riding in Ireland but hopefully I'll be allowed back to spectate in years to come. I think the lads in the weighing room are happy to see me go!

"I've known lads like Ruby Walsh, Paul Carberry and David Casey for a long time, and I'll miss coming to Ireland. I'm flattered by all the attention that I've been given, and I've been just trying to keep my mind on the job."

Meanwhile, Joseph O'Brien's wait for a winner over jumps goes on. The dual champion was riding the weakening Draco when he came to grief at the final flight. O'Brien walked away none the worse.

Twinlight got his season back on track with a fine front-running display in the Normans Grove Chase. After running out a surprise winner of the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, the Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old failed to get seriously competitive in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot or the Tied Cottage at Punchestown and was particularly disappointing on his latest appearance at Naas.

With impressive Naas winner Mallowney the 1/2 favourite to confirm his superiority, Twinlight was a 3/1 shot as he emphatically turned the tables under Ruby Walsh.

Irish Independent

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