Long shot Baresi hits target at right time
What a coup Baresi landed in the two-and-a-half-mile hurdle at Clonmel last Thursday.
Previously, in one point-to-point, four bumpers and 10 hurdle races, he never seriously threatened to win.
Third in a couple of summer bumpers two years ago and behind Ordinary Man in a maiden hurdle over Thursday's course and distance last June, he had a proven low level of ability, but he had made a fairly decent job of keeping even that much well hidden.
Three weeks after his third-place finish at Clonmel 11 months ago, he made his handicap debut off a mark of 98 at Limerick, when he was nibbled at from an opening show of 9/1 into an SP of 6/1.
Over two miles and six furlongs, he led at a crawl early on, before dropping out alarmingly quickly down the back to finish a hopelessly tailed-off last.
It was a similar story over two-and-half at Cork next time, before his falling rating prompted a couple of less dire turns back at Clonmel and Listowel, latterly beaten 12-and-a-half lengths off 93 on his final outing in Kerry last September.
In between then and Thursday, the handicapper eased him another token pound and the horse's ownership changed from that of Colm Ryan to the Baresi Partnership.
Thus, on his first start for eight months, he rocked up at Clonmel, having attracted plenty morning support at as big as 25/1 with the off-course layers.
Cometh the hour on-course, he opened at 9/1, was backed into 4/1 favouritism, and battled hard for five-pound claimer Rob Jones to prevail by a neck from a race-fit Credit Box.
Someone had learned something significant since that nibble at Limerick last July, but the horse's trainer John Long -- hitherto more established as a breeder than a trainer -- denied all knowledge of what had all the appearances of a monster gamble, only staying long enough in the winner's enclosure to tell reporters: "I only had a score each-way on the Tote."
Indeed, when you examine Long's track record, the successful plunge becomes even more remarkable. Since sending out his first runner in 2005, the little-known Adare-based restricted licence holder had saddled just two winners, both of which returned at double-figure odds, and none since Caher Lass scored at this week's Killarney meeting in 2008.
In the eight months since Baresi ran at Listowel, Long ran two other horses three times, both performing without much distinction on each occasion. Prolific he most certainly was not.
And yet, Baresi was backed off the boards, prompting puzzlement among many seasoned race-watchers before the tapes ever went up on Thursday.
The 80-95 handicap in question, boasting a first prize of just €4,830, was a suitably ordinary affair for such a touch, but he was clearly tuned to a nicety for the occasion, finding sufficient reserves to fend off the challenge of Credit Box, which had travelled much the better into the home straight.
While the aphorism 'they knew, springs to mind, the question on everyone's lips is who exactly 'they' were, given Long's denial to concede any knowledge of what looked like a perfectly executed gamble, not to mention his modest CV. In a way, his improvement in form is even more extraordinary than Baresi's.
Furner's demise caps
bad day for O'Brien
A frustrating afternoon at Longchamp for Aidan O'Brien soon turned worse when Furner's Green had to be put down after suffering a fatal injury in yesterday's French equivalent of 2,000 Guineas, the Poule d'Essai des Poulains.
Joseph O'Brien endured a less than clear passage on the smart three-year-old, before flashing home to grab third in a congested finish, just two short necks behind the 27/1 winner Lucayan.
However, Furner's Green broke a leg after passing the post, catapulting O'Brien into the ground, though the rider got up unscathed.
That unfortunate episode followed Up's commendable second to the odds-on favourite Beauty Parlour in the fillies' equivalent Group One, with stablemate After taking fourth, and David Wachman's Fire Lily just behind her in fifth.
Crowley's US glory
marred by fatality
Cork native Brian Crowley, who rode Jock's Cross to victory in the 2000 Welsh National for Venetia Williams, was left distraught after Arcadius collapsed and died of a heart attack having won the Grade One Iroquis Chase for him at Percy Warner Park in Nashville on Saturday.
Crowley is one of a number of ex-Irish and English-based riders to have revived their careers in America, and the 31-year-old has developed a lucrative association with Jonathon Sheppard, the veteran Hall of Fame trainer. Arcadius, which Crowley rode in its track work that very morning, also started out here, winning a Navan maiden for Aidan O'Brien in 2007, before scoring over hurdles at Tramore for John Halley.
Ride of the weekend
Ruby Walsh was at his sublime best on Shamkhal at Killarney yesterday, settling Tony Martin's four-year-old well in down the rail early on.
Gradually, he moved off the inside to make up his ground with characteristic patience, and Shamkhal eventually touched down on the outside of Bulgaden and Faustina Pius as they landed over the last. By the time they crossed the line, the eight-time champion jockey had coaxed his mount home by a neck and a short-head in a thrilling finish. The win initiated a quick-fire treble for the Killl native as -- much to the delight of punters -- he also scored on favourites Dara Tango (also trained by Martin) and Moyaliff for Charlie Swan. The day's feature was won by the Eoin Doyle-trained Satu.
of the weekend
Gorey-based Liam Kenny deserves credit for producing the mare Galant Ferns to win for a fifth time at Kilbeggan on Saturday. On just her fourth start over fences in the Belvedere House Handicap Chase, off a career-high mark of 123 and with top-weight, the eight-year-old ran out a convincing two-length winner from 11 male rivals under Bryan Cooper.
10,695 What Shot From The Hip, a Grade One winner at the Punchestown Festival last year, earned when landing the featured www.themalton.com Chase at Killarney yesterday. Representing the Edward O'Grady, JP McManus and Mark Walsh team that lost the fancied Corbally Cross to a broken leg in the preceding race, the eight-year-old prevailed in a driving finish from the pace-setting Regal D'Estruval.
33 Johnny Murtagh's strike-rate in Britain this term after he won Saturday's Lingfield Oaks' trial on Vow -- his only ride of the day -- for William Haggas. It was his sixth success from 18 rides for a level-stake profit of 6.16
@AndrewDuff01 -- Cheer up Sir Alex you just won the bumper in Worcester!!
-- Amateur jockey and Arsenal fan Andrew Duff, who had earlier tweeted about what, at the time, was an uncomfortable drive home from Leopardstown with a Spurs fan, offers Alex Ferguson some ironic congrats after his George Baker-trained I'm Fraam Govan obliged on its debut.