Friday 13 December 2019

Walsh shines as George hits ground running in Killarney

Thomas Kelly

RUBY Walsh and Henry de Bromhead combined to spring a minor surprise in last night's feature at Killarney, when Fort George took the Christy McSweeney Memorial Novice Chase.

Running in the familiar Sizing Europe colours of Ann and Alan Potts, the eight-year-old made most of the running and stayed on well under pressure to fend off 6/4 favourite Sweeps Hill by five lengths.

Having failed to win on his previous eight attempts over fences, Fort George was recently sent back over smaller obstacles and on his last start at Gowran last month, he won by eight lengths in a maiden hurdle. "He was good and he bounces off that quick ground," said Walsh afterwards.

On the level, Tornedo Shay let down favourite backers in the Qualified Riders Race as the odds-on shot was put in his place by Dundrum for the Harrington mother and daughter team of trainer Jessica and rider Kate.

"I'm delighted with that as I didn't think he would win, I thought Tornedo Shay would," said the trainer. "He will go for the Galway Plate next. He has 9-10 and I presume he will get in."

Barry Geraghty landed a 49/1 double by winning the last two races, courtesy of Thomond O'Mara's Eagles Pass in the handicap chase and Fair Dilemma in the concluding handicap hurdle.

Johnny Murtagh was another rider in double form with John Oxx's Shiraymiyna making all in the opening fillies maiden to record a convincing victory from Ondeafears.

Murtagh completed his brace in the conditions race over an extended mile which had a dramatic start when 7/4 favourite Giant Step veered right out of the stalls and hit the rail under Billy Lee. He lost a lot of ground and was pulled up by his rider.

That left the other four runners to fight it out, with Coprah and Murtagh edging out Mawaakef. "A stiff seven furlongs to a mile is his trip -- he will go for a handicap next," said winning trainer Ken Condon, who was completing an across-the-card double having sent out Liberty Island to win at Dundalk.

Teenage apprentice Ross Coakley made every post a winning one aboard Condon's 10/1 shot in the Louth venue's opening five-furlong sprint.

The feature contest on the Dundalk card, the two-mile handicap, was won by Vincent Ward's End Of The Affair which showed the field a clean pair of heels under Sam James. The successful partnership came home four-and-a-half lengths clear of 7/4 favourite Elyaadi. "I have it in the back of my mind to take her over the water for one of the big staying handicaps," said Ward.

Shane Foley was another jockey in double form, initiating his brace with victory aboard David Marnane's Cool Athlete in the one-mile handicap.

The five-year-old, representing the Equine Friends Syndicate, was backed from an opening show of 15/2 down to 4/1 and the gamble was landed by half a length from Xsquared. Michael Halford's Takapour gave Foley his double when taking the one mile two-and-a-half furlong maiden by half a length.

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