Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 25 February 2018

Learning curve for Piggott as Keane stars on Sabaidee

Jamie Piggott: finished seventh
Jamie Piggott: finished seventh
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

THERE was no dream debut for Lester Piggott's 19-year-old son Jamie at Killarney, but he still wore the smile of a young man excited about his new vocation after steering Tommy Stack's Pivotal Rock into seventh place in the mile handicap.

As the picturesque Kerry venue basked in glorious sunshine with temperatures soaring to a sweltering 30 degrees, the enormous Ladies' Day crowd latched on to the novelty of the first professional appearance of the legendary rider's teenage offspring, backing his mount into 6/1 favouritism.

However, having held an early position close to the pace, both horse and rider tired visibly in the sweltering heat late on, as Danny Grant drove the Pat Flynn-trained Measured Approval to a shock 20/1 triumph.

"It was a great experience and I really enjoyed it," Piggott beamed as he strode back to the weigh room with his saddle under his arm after the Grand Hotel-sponsored heat.

"I completed my A-levels in maths and three sciences before giving riding a go. I've been riding properly for only eight months. I've been riding out in Tommy Stack's (yard) and have been there full-time since before the winter – hopefully I can make a career of being a jockey now."

Fozzy Stack, son and assistant to the other iconic riding figure in the partnership, also said he was happy with the stable's aspiring apprentice's career launch.

"Nobody is ever going to be his father, but Jamie did nothing wrong," he said. "He isn't at it long and he certainly enjoyed himself – he had a big smile on his face anyway!"

Grant said of the winner: "He ran a cracker at the Curragh, but disappointed on his last two starts so we decided to change tactics with him today. We were worried about the ground but they went a good pace and he got into the race easily, everything worked out."

The most impressive equine display of the day was that of Sabaidee in the two-mile Europe Hotel & Resort Handicap.

Up 17lbs after a runaway win at Bellewstown recently, the progressive four-year-old stormed home again under rising star Colin Keane to provide John Murphy's in-form stable with its second winner of the week.

"She could go to Galway, but she is in at Ballinrobe on Monday, so we might turn her out again there," said the Cork-based trainer of Luke Lillingston's 5/1 favourite.

Willie Mullins' Shamar also completed back-to-back victories in the Dawn Milk Omega Novices' Hurdle.

Ruby Walsh challenged up the inside of the favourite Sizing Platinum on the run to the final flight, and when that one blundered, Walsh's partner, so impressive in a Cork maiden in May, took full advantage to deny Que Pasa.

Amateur rider Moira McElligott made amends for missing out on the win on Pat Neville's Chrisdonlady a day earlier by steering Kilcara Boy (16/1) to a decisive victory for the Askeaton trainer in the two-mile handicap hurdle.

A qualified veterinary surgeon, Listowel native McElligott's previous track win came aboard Chrisdonlady at her local venue in 2011, but Neville was reluctant to allow her ride over fences on her first day back after she broke her collarbone off the mare in June.

"She lost out last night (Wednesday) because I wouldn't let her ride, but this makes up for it," he said. "This fellow is a lovely horse – hopefully, he will go to Galway now."

Both the eight-year-old's previous hurdle wins had come on heavy ground, but once McElligott delivered him at the second last he wasn't for stopping and he won by three lengths. Tirmoyle at 10/1 chased him home in second with Another Ambition (6/1) in third and Byron Blue (20/1) getting fourth-placed money for his work.

The equivalent €15,000 feature went to Charlie Swan's popular 13/2 shot Tribes And Banner.

Twice a winner over fences in May, John Cullen's mount is also Galway-bound, though Swan reckoned he wouldn't make the cut for the €260,000 Hurdle. This was the nine-year-old's 10th victory in a career now spanning 49 races on the Flat, over hurdles and in steeplechases.

Takeyourcapoff was strongly fancied to deliver for Jessica Harrington and went off the 2/1 favourite. However, once headed in the straight, she weakened to finish last of the eight runners.

The Tote Placepot Maiden went to the easy-to-back 6/4 jolly Absolutlyfantastic. Henry de Bromhead's versatile six-year-old came second when heading the market over fences on Monday, but Billy Lee executed an exquisite, waiting ride in this one-mile-three-furlong affair to thwart the well-supported Beyond Berlin by a neck late on.

"It's always a risk running them back so soon and he did get a bit wound up beforehand, but Billy gave him an absolutely cracking ride," De Bromhead admitted.

The card concluded with the sort of precocious debut many were hoping for earlier on, as Eoin Doyle's Palm Sur made a successful bow at odds of 20/1 for Paul Power.

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