Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Sheriff shoots down rivals to set up 89/1 Martin treble

I Shot The Sheriff, with Paul Townend up, crosses the finish line to win the Boomerang Animal Bedding Handicap Hurdle
I Shot The Sheriff, with Paul Townend up, crosses the finish line to win the Boomerang Animal Bedding Handicap Hurdle
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

I Shot The Sheriff pulverised the opposition to set up a sparkling 89/1 Easter Monday treble for Tony Martin at Fairyhouse.

The well-backed 4/1 favourite tanked to the front four-out under Paul Townend in the €24,500 Boomerang Animal Bedding Handicap Hurdle.

From there, it was a question of what last month's Wexford winner would find, and the response was emphatic as he strode clear to turn a supposedly competitive two-mile-six-furlong affair into a rout.

The victory meant that the in-form Martin had matched his personal best tally of 40 domestic wins, and he went one better when Anibale Fly (5/1) rallied late under Steven Clements to reel in Livelovelaugh in the bumper.

I Shot The Sheriff's success was also a second of the card for Townend, enabling the 2011 champion jockey to keep within striking distance of Ruby Walsh on 66 wins. Walsh, upstaged on the day by his Irish Grand National-winning sister Katie, also bagged a brace to bypass the sidelined Mark Walsh to lead the table on 70.

"He's a horse with plenty of pace and early on I was looking at him thinking maybe I should have run him over two miles instead," Martin quipped of Malcolm Denmark's I Shot The Sheriff. "He might go to Punchestown if there is enough cut in the ground."

Martin's Dedigout stretched its unbeaten record in 2015 to three with a stylish triumph in the preceding Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle. The local Moynalvey-based handler was saddling the nine-year-old to a third Grade Two success on the spin, with Paul Carberry nearly as motionless as Townend in deputising for the suspended Bryan Cooper.

It was the Gigginstown Stud-owned mud-lover's 10th win in all, an admirable feat given that he returned from a year on the sidelines here in December. Carberry caressed him home by three lengths from last year's 11-year-old winner Thousand Stars, which ran a blinder on its return.

"He was always a very promising horse but things just didn't work out for him," Martin said of the 2/1 market leader. "He chipped his knee here the December before last so it's great to have him back."

Of his fellow Meath man's characteristically nonchalant steer, he added: "That's just Carberry. He just sits up there and gives them a squeeze at the right time."

Townend initiated his 39/1 brace when the supposed Willie Mullins second string Buiseness Sivola broke its duck at the fifth time of asking over flights with a decisive win in the REA Grimes Property Consultants Hurdle, the duo's second successive win in the Grade Three.

Mullins then watched Sempre Medici sluice up under Walsh in the Rathbarry and Glenview Studs Novices Hurdle. Rich Ricci's five-year-old hadn't won in three outings since its facile hurdle debut at Cork in November, but he led on the bit two-out here en route to justifying strong morning support by five-and-a-half-lengths.

"He was sixth in the County Hurdle and the experience of that stood to him here," the champion trainer said of the 9/4 favourite.

The irrepressible Carlow-based genius completed his own 31.5/1 treble when Walsh guided the long odds-on Vroum Vroum Mag to a bloodless 13-length demolition in the Grade Three mares' chase.

"We'll try and find something in Punchestown for her," he said of Ricci's rising star, before hinting that he could give her an entry in the mares' Grade One hurdle there.

Mullins and Martin departed with 75pc of the eight races, but the Tipperary father and son duo of John and Martin Burke got in on the act when Aurora Bell clung on by a short-head from Mallards In Flight in the novices' handicap chase.

Irish Independent

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