Captainofthefleet which is trained near Limerick Junction by Eamonn O’Connell caused a 20/1 upset when he landed the time honoured Tipperary Cup a two mile flat handicap at Clonmel on Thursday. Winner of a mile and three maiden for the Kevin Prendergast yard in 2011 the Refuse To Bend gelding proved to be disappointing last flat term and was purchased at Goffs horses-in-training sales by O’Connell in November.
He at Tipperary in a mile and four handicap over a week earlier and although not concerned at the finish ran well enough to suggest that there was a race to be won with him. Connections decided to jump him off in front this time and he was allowed an uncontested lead, rider Fergal Lynch stole a few vital lengths going out on the final circuit which later proved to be vital as he able to get a breather into the horse before the straight. At this point the well supported Fleur De Nuit arrived to throw down a challenge but for some reason she looked as though she did not want to pass Captainofthefleet which in spite of drifting to the stand side prevailed by threeparts of a length. A stewards inquiry quickly followed as the winner seemed to intimidate the runner-up however, the result was allowed to stand which was well received. A fine big scopy horse Captainofthefleet will not be asked to race on fast ground and instead will be put away until the autumn when he will go hurdling.
The horse on most punters lips after racing was Sizing Platinum which made a winning debut in the extended maiden hurdle in the hands of Andrew Lynch. Vibes from the Henry de Bromhead stable suggested that Sizing Platinum was decent so punters heeded the advice and sent him off favourite.
Sizing Sahara in the same colours jumped off in front but ducked sharply to his right at the second flight of hurdles and unseated Ruby Walsh leaving Sizing Platinum in front a position he never relinquished as he came home seven lengths to the good. The winning trainer told me that the son of definite Article came to him at Christmas and has gone the right way since. The original plan was to start him off in a bumper but since the owners are not bumper fans he went straight over hurdles. A novice hurdle at Killarney in July is already pencilled in as the owners will be holidaying in the area at that time but this looks like a lovely horse in the making and his career will be followed with interest.
Carrick on Suir based owner/trainer /breeder Gerald Quirke was another to cause an upset when he saddled Sarah Battle to capture the three mile handicap hurdle at 25/1. The daughter of Flemensfirth was given plenty of time to find her feet by jockey Adam O’Neill before getting into the race going across the top of the hill on the last circuit. She threw down her challenge at the second last flight before hitting the front on the run-in and upsetting the favourite Whiskey And Red by a neck. In his post race remarks Quirke revealed that he was training his charge wrong and eased back on some of her work which seems to have the desired result.
Rough Justice has been an expensive horse to follow but he finally came good with a workmanlike success in the bumper where just a length and a half separated the first four home. Like he did in his previous three starts the Beneficial gelding started favourite but he made his supporters suffer somewhat before getting his head in front. Rider Patrick Mullins settled him just behind the leaders and had him right on the premises turning to face the judge. The longtime leader B L Swagger was showing no signs of stopping and it took all of the Mullins persuasion to get him up in the closing stages by a neck from the latter with Bridgequarter Girl just a head further in areers in third place and half to the good from the fourth finisher anger Management. Well regarded by connections the winner works better at home than on the track according to Patrick Mullins who told me then horse will go hurdling sooner rather later. He goes well on decent ground so the likelihood id that he can make his mark during the summer months.
Bell Weir trained near Mooncoin by Eoin Doyle ran out a comfortable enough winner of the opening maiden for older horses over two mile and half a furlong. Given a stylish ride by Joseph O’Brien the five year old was never too far out of his ground. He made smooth progress on the downhill run to the straight before taking over at the two furlong marker and running all the way to the line where he had four lengths to spare over Another Charm with the Andy Slattery runner Prince Of Milan a similar distance further back in third place. Doyle told me post race that his charge is not a natural over hurdles as he keeps backing off his hurdles, the plan now is to keep him going on the flat with a two mile handicap the next target.