Katie’s Corner: Big win for O’Connell in JP colours

Brian O’Connell had a first win in the JP McManus colours and Mark Enright continued his good run of winners with two more in Cork on Sunday last. Katie McNamara reports

Brian O’Connell had a first win in the JP McManus colours and Mark Enright continued his good run of winners with two more in Cork on Sunday last. Katie McNamara reports

It had been a month since Limerick jockey Brian O’Connell had entered the winner’s enclosure but he made up for the absence in good style in the opening Maiden Hurdle at Wexford last Wednesday on ‘Venture Capital’.

O’Connell, who mainly rides for trainer Philip Fenton who trained the winner on this occasion, was winning in the iconic Green and Gold hoop colours of JP McManus.

It was O’Connell’s first time to win for McManus as it was for Fenton. for the first time in his career and it was also Fenton’s first winner for the well known owner.

It was ‘Venture Capital’s’ third run of his career having won his bumper first time out and then running bad on ground that was much too heavy for him at Puunchestown behind the 2012 Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner ‘Champagne Fever’.

However, there was no shortage of confidence behind the horse as he was sent off at odds of 11/10 to successfully open his account over hurdles and he happily obliged, taking the race by 2 ¾ lengths from ‘Our Native Land’. Fenton commented afterwards “Leopardstown at Christmas is a possibility or else he could run in the New Year”.

Where ever this horse goes next, there is sure to be plenty of confidence behind him and avoiding heavy ground if at all possible, he may be your Christmas banker.

Clonmel races were held the following day, where Rathkeale jockey Robert Jones was crowned the top conditional at the racecourse for the year of 2012.

With five winners and four placed horses under his belt, he achieved the highest ‘points’ to win the cheque of €1,000 and a trophy for good measure. His competitors included the likes of Patrick Mangan and Newcastle West jockey Mark Enright.

In my opinion, it is a very good idea to have such competitions like this within racecourses if sponsorship can be received to fund the prize, as it lets conditionals shine in their own sphere instead of always competing with the top jockeys like Ruby Walsh and Davy Russell.

Mark Enright was firing on all cylinders once again this week with yet another double. The 20-year-old had a lot to smile about as he partnered two winners at Sunday’s race meeting at Cork.

His first winner came in the form of ‘Great Oak’ in the Grade 3 Mares Novice Chase. It was quite a dramatic race as coming to the last, the favourite ‘Tarla’ and the 16-1 outsider ‘Cnoc Seoda’ jumped it upsides with the race at their mercy.

Lucky for Enright, who was a well beaten third at this stage, both horses ended up falling at the last leaving ‘Great Oak’ and his rider to take the race by six lengths from ‘Our Girl Lucy’. Enright quickly doubled up in the next race with the ST Nolan trained ‘Carlowsantana’. The 14-1 shot made the running and gave a great display of jumping, only to make a slight jumping error at the second last but still kept on well to take the Handicap Hurdle by three lengths from ‘See Double You’. Nolan was quoted after the race “Mark gave the horse a great ride and I’ve no doubt he’ll go the top.”

In the last two weeks, Enright has partnered four winners and three seconds and is great value for his five pound claim. As I said before, he is most definitely a jockey on the up and I’m not the only one who thinks so.

A very interesting runner over the weekend came in the form of the Seamus Braddish trained De Dodger’. The nine-year-old gelding won his Novice Chase well on his second attempt last April and then was given a good break over the summer months.

His first run back came last Sunday at Punchestown where he ran in a very competitive chase finishing second to the talented ‘Glenquest’. Beaten only 2 ¾ lengths, ‘De Dodger’ seems to be an exciting recruit to the chasing game and his Ballysteen handler has a lot to look forward to over the larger obstacles with this son of Flemensfirth.