In her weekly Limerick Leader column, Katie McNamara looks at how Limerick connections fared in the past week on the national hunt scene.
For what started out to look a quiet week in racing due to the cancellation of Thurles on Thursday, it certainly picked up for the Limerick raiders once again this week.
The week began at Fairyhouse on Wednesday and continued on to Dundalk Friday evening where county Limerick was being well represented without quite getting as far as the winners enclosure.
The dry spell came to an end, however, when Croom Jockey Andrew Mcnamara Jnr partnered the classy ‘Hidden Cyclone’ to a 4 ¼ length victory in the Carlow IT Students Day December 13th Chase at Gowran Park on Saturday. The ‘Stowaway’ gelding seemed to enjoy dictating the pace from the front in the 2 mile 4 furlong event and won easily in the end from the Willie Mullins trained ‘Call the Police’.
Mcnamara has ridden the John Joseph Hanlon (Known as the ‘Shark’) inmate to eight of his nine career victories and his next port of call will be the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown according to his trainer. The horse may have tough opposition in the same race as the Charles Byrnes trained ‘Weapon’s Amnesty’ is also targeting the Leopardstown showpiece.
The former RSA Chase winner of 2010 is back in training with the last few months having been off with a bad leg injury since his Cheltenham win and is pleasing his trainer enough at home to be aimed at the ever competitive Grade 1 Lexus Chase.
It was another winning week for Bruree trainer Enda Bolger as he saddled the 12/1 shot ‘Drawn n Drank’ to land the INH Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle at Navan on Sunday. The 6 year old son of ‘Snurge’ was winning for the first time on the track after injuring his knee in a banks race at Punchestown last year. The horse is not short of ability and has proven form over 3 miles having been 2nd in his first two point to points and winning on his third and fourth attempts. He seems to be finding his way now and may be one to have a punt on over Christmas in a 3 mile hurdle on heavy ground.
Sunday also brought great joy on the point to point scene with a welcome double for well known Croom amateur JT Mcnamara. Having been placed in the previous race, Mcnamara took the Kelkab Ltd & O’Neills Daybreak 5 year old Geldings Maiden on the Shark Hanlon trained ‘Rare Legend’.
The five-year-old had run twice beforehand finishing 2nd and 3rd and showed real potential. As a result, he was sent off the 7/4 favourite and won impressively in the hands of his experienced rider. He is another example of a talented son of ‘Stowaway’ and his trainer seems to really take to the sire as many ‘Stowaway’ horses have passed through his hands in recent years.
The double was completed in good fashion as Mcnamara took the last race of the day on the John F. Dwyer trained ‘Sophie’s Shadow’.
Having fallen on her sole start in a point to point, the 5 year old took to the lead four out and won well by 4 lengths. As I said in my column last week, J.T Mcnamara is always a man to have a fairly safe punt on in point to points as he rarely goes home without a winner, you can’t beat experience!
To top a great week off, Charles Byrne’s took the risk in sending his quirky mare ‘Knockfierna’ to Kempton for the Listed OLBG Mares Hurdle on Monday and thankfully it paid off. After running out for the second time in her racing career, ‘Knockfierna’ can be classified as an unpredictable sort at times, however, she has tons of ability on the track which has been illustrated through her 9 career wins to date for her shrewd Ballingarry handler.
She was sent off an 11/4 chance for the 3 mile event and won well by 2 ½ lengths to ‘Miss Milborne’. The majority of the Knockfierna syndicate travelled across the water to witness their talented mare in action. Byrnes thinks very highly of the mare and rightly so, he said: ‘Apart from Quevega, she’d be as good as any other mare and if there was a chance she could get in the first half dozen at Cheltenham (in the mare’s hurdle), you’d have to consider it.’
There is also a chance she may return to Kempton at Christmas time to have a crack at another competitive hurdle, and if so, she will be very hard to beat.