Wednesday 21 February 2018

'Racer' toughs it out at Perth as O'Brien eyes Breeders' bid

Jockey Seamie Heffernan. Photo: Cody Glenn / Sportsfile
Jockey Seamie Heffernan. Photo: Cody Glenn / Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Moon Racer's belated hurdling debut yesterday provided connections and backers with a few scares but he got the job done after a gripping duel with Ballyandy.

The notion of two Cheltenham Bumper winners making their hurdling debuts against each other at Perth in September seems fanciful but so it was and racegoers were treated to a stirring duel. Ballyandy appeared to be travelling much sweeter than the winner for much of the final half-mile but, with the rail to help, the David Pipe-trained seven-year-old got on top near the wire by three parts of a length.

Tom Scudamore had a willing partner in the winner, which is making up for lost time. "What a great race," tweeted trainer David Pipe, who had intended on the ex-Irish-trained horse making his jumps debut in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham last March.

Flying Angel, winner of the Imperial Cup at Sandown last season, made a near-perfect start over fences at the Scottish venue. He breezed to an easy win in the novices' chase for Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies.

Joseph O'Brien was among the winners at the Curragh yesterday and is aiming Intricately, his first Group One winner as a trainer, at the Breeders' Cup. She also has the option of Newmarket's Fillies' Mile but is set to go for the race in which Joseph's father, Aidan, trained Alice Springs to finish second last year.

"She came out of her race very well and more than likely will run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, rather than the Fillies' Mile," he said. "The faster ground will suit and she has a bit of tactical speed - it might work out."

The senior O'Brien was narrowly denied in Newmarket's Group Three Tattersalls Stakes yesterday, 9/2 chance Whitecliffsofdover failing to match Larchmont Lad in the closing stages. The 8/1 winner, trained by Richard Hannon, was ridden by Sean Levey, who spent several years with O'Brien at Ballydoyle.

Seamus Heffernan is bullish about the prospects of Bondi Beach, which has been gambled into favourite, providing Aidan O'Brien with a first winner in the Emirates Melbourne Cup.

Heffernan has ridden the son of Galileo to victory on four occasions, though Brett Pebble steered him when among the also-rans in last year's renewal. Emmet McNamara partnered him to finish third to Zhukova on his last run at Leopardstown.

"His Leopardstown runs have been good and I'd say we are only now getting a clean run of things with him now at home. Hopefully he can go down there sound," said Heffernan.

"He definitely has a chance if that is Aidan's plan. The owner is keen - he picks out horses he thinks will suit for that race and he has had an influence on his build-up."

Bondi Beach is to be joined in the race by the Michael Bell-trained Big Orange, which won the Goodwood Cup in July when last seen. He was due to go for the Irish St Leger but easy ground scuppered that plan.

Irish Independent

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