Limerick trainer Austin Leahy bags hat-trick of wins
LIMERICK racehorse trainer Austin Leahy enjoyed a prolific 24 hours last weekend when sending out three winners at his local track, where he enjoyed a double, and Fairyhouse.
All three winners carried the famed green and gold hoop colours of JP McManus.
Leahy, who trains at Cloher, Kilmallock, saddled 6/1 chance Getoutwhenyoucan to win the Christmas Racing Festival 26th-29th December Handcap Hurdle, part of a memorable four-timer for jockey Mark Walsh.
Leahy and Walsh also teamed up to win the Annual Membership Only 120 At Limerick Racecourse Rated Novice Hurdle with Wait Here.
The 100/30 market leader took up the running at the second last flight of hurdles and stayed on strongly to prevail by an impressive five-and-a-half lengths.
Leahy made it three wins in 24 hours when saddling Nearly Nama’d to win the Grade B EasyFix Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse on Saturday under jockey Luke Dempsey and Limerick owner McManus.
The winner was returned at a tasty starting price of 20/1.
Austin Leahy said: “Going to Greenmount on Friday I was hoping the two of them would be in the first three in their races and I was more than pleased when they won.
“They were healthy and well beforehand and I was hoping for the best.
”The plan with the two horses is that they will come back to run at Limerick again at Christmas time.
”We will play it by ear after that. Getoutwhenyoucan has an option to go over fences and the other horse will probably continue hurdling for this season.
”With Nearly Nama’d at Fairyhouse on Saturday, I was hoping he had a great chance because he had a terrific run in Cork a couple of weeks ago. He was fourth.
”I hoped he would build on that run which he did on Saturday and won well.
“The plan for Nearly Nama’d is that he could go to that Tim Duggan race at Limerick or could go back to Fairyhouse for the Dan Moore Memorial about the second week in January.
“We have had about seven wins this season, we are tipping away.
“I have a good few flat horses as well, about 24 or 25 in total, with about a dozen of them for the jumps.
“The nature of the game is that is has never been easy to train winners. Long ago you had the top trainers too, the likes of the Tom Dreapers and Vincent O’Briens were always there.”
Looking back over his distinguished training career, Austin Leahy, who trains in the parish of Athlacca, recalled being leading trainer at the old Greenpark Racecourse in Limerick city for the year on two occasions some 25 years ago when it carried a prizefund of IR£2,000 for the winner.
Leahy’s stable stars over the years included the highly impressive mare Shannon Spray who won a dozen races on the track, including the prestigious Saval Beg Stakes in Leopardstown and the Listed Findus Hurdle also at the same Foxrock venue.
“We start work about 6am. We are going to Cork with three runners on Sunday. We will be building now towards Limerick at Christmas.
“We are grateful for the support of an owner like JP McManus. He has been loyal to me for up to 30 years. That makes it easier. The McManus’ are a very nice family.”