Wednesday 13 December 2017

'This training business is a headache now' - Hourigan

The smart Flat performer won four of his first five starts over obstacles for the champion trainer before finishing fourth behind stable companion Airlie Beach in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse. (Stock photo)
The smart Flat performer won four of his first five starts over obstacles for the champion trainer before finishing fourth behind stable companion Airlie Beach in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse. (Stock photo)

Thomas Kelly

Michael Hourigan may have claimed a double at his local Limerick track yesterday but the success failed to lift the spirits of the veteran trainer who has grave concerns for Irish racing.

Undressed was a 6/1 winner under Mikey Forgarty of the Ladbrokes Rated Novice Chase before Cian Collins drove Moores Road (3/1 favourite) to victory in the Frank Hogan Mercedes Benz Limerick Handicap Hurdle.

Hourigan, who turned 69 earlier this month, said: "It's nice to get a winner. I used to be leading trainer here when I could train five or six winners in the week, but now there are younger fellows like Willie Mullins taking over and training 20 in the week.

"I've had great times and this place is a happy hunting ground, but we're quiet at the moment.

"I have between 25 and 30 horses in training. It's plenty because you can't get the staff and this training game is a headache now.

"You're not happy doing it, you do it because you love it. There's not a hope I would stay at it if I was younger as I don't have the numbers. This game has been good to me though and I'll stick at it as long as I can - we'll survive."

Meanwhile, Penhill got back on the winning trail and starred in a treble at the Patrickswell venue for Mullins with a smooth success in the Guinness Novice Hurdle.

The smart Flat performer won four of his first five starts over obstacles for the champion trainer before finishing fourth behind stable companion Airlie Beach in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

Stepped up from two to three miles for this Grade Two assignment, Penhill was a 3/1 shot under Paul Townend, who was content to bide his time.

Fellow Mullins' inmate Livelovelaugh took the five-strong field along for much of the journey, but his stable companion loomed up ominously in the home straight and came home with seven lengths in hand.

Call The Taxie comfortably got the better of a tiring Livelovelaugh to the runner-up spot with Noel Meade's even-money favourite Rathnure Rebel proving a bitter disappointment back in a distant fourth.

Townend said: "I thought we went a good gallop and he jumped OK, but I suppose the step-up to three miles helped him. It helps him sort himself out, but he still galloped into one or two (hurdles).

"There was a question mark whether he'd get the trip coming here, but he got it well and I don't think we hung around."

Mullins and Townend got the afternoon off to a flyer with Pylonthepressure (evens favourite) staying on well in the opening maiden hurdle, before Benie Des Dieux (4/6 favourite) made a flying start to her Irish career with a 30-length romp in the mares beginners chase.

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