Tipperary or Limerick Junction as it is known to the older generation opened its gates for a two-day meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, the opening session which was transferred from Fairyhouse gave patrons free admission and this proved to be very popular. David Marnane who trains at nearby Bansha certainly set the cat among the pigeons in the 3&4yo maiden over an extended seven furlongs when he saddled then 33/1 chance Alnashmy to turn over the 2/9 favourite Zabarajad Having finished runner-up in the Tetrarch Stakes at the Curragh and a creditable sixth behind Roderick O’Connor in the Irish 2000 Guineas Zabarajad was expected to land the odds with a leg tied up but there was a huge shock in store for him. The rank outsider Ibiza Diamond set the pace but went quickly into reverse once the straight was reached, at this point rider Johnny Murtagh had sent the favourite into the lead and the contest looked over. However, Colm O’Donoghue was beginning to get a tune out of Alnashmy and the son of Shamardal gradually wore down Zabarajad to land the spoils by half a length with four more lengths back to the third finisher Advenio. The silence that greeted to result was almost deafening but Marnane was the least surprised man about as he announced tongue-in-cheek that he quietly fancied his charge, the horse is still babyish but improving and after this surprise success the trainer will now have to assess the future carefully.
Jim Bolger seems to have a decent crop of juveniles this season and that opinion was borne out when Somasach made a winning debut in the opening juvenile maiden. After from the Aidan O’Brien stable was all the rage in the betting market but after being prominent early on he faded out of contention in the latter part of the race. In contrast Somasach sat in behind the leaders until the furlong marker when Kevin Manning sent her to the front but in the end was all out to hold the late surge of the David Wachman runner Experience by a short head. The latter must be considered an unlucky loser as he reared up leaving stalls and made up huge ground in the closing stages, one thing is for sure he will not start at 14/1 when he next appears.
Bolger was absent from the meeting but his representative Ger Flynn revealed that the winner which was bred by the trainer in America is highly regarded and could be on the team for Royal Ascot with the Queen Mary Stakes as a target.
Former Meath footballer Willie McCreery has a good strike rate with the horses under his care and he gained further success when Geraldines Lass ran out a narrow winner of the five furlong handicap. Well supported the daughter of Titus Livius raced prominently from the drop of the flag, she did not enjoy the clearest of runs but once seeing daylight ran on strongly to hit the wire a neck to the good over Lechevailer Choisi which in turn was just a short head in front of Foot Perfect. A winner at Navan the previous Saturday Geraldines Lass was defying a 5lb penalty, she is on the upgrade according to McCreery but as races of this nature are scarce she will not appear again for a month or so.
Thursdays all jumping card was much more to the liking of the local fraternity and Bansha born Christie Roche kept his loyal band of followers happy when taking the two mile and four handicap chase with Harold’s Cross. A winner at Killarney on his previous outing the son of Galileo was defying a 12lb hike in the weights, rider Alan Crowe did not rush him in the early stages but had him right on the premises turning for home. Once asked the question Harold’s Cross picked up well and quickly settled the issue winning easily by six lengths from Hot Friend. A typical summer animal the winner will be kept on the go but he will be well anchored by the handicapper so completing the hat-trick will be no easy task.
Jockey mark who had been out of action since damaging his wrist in the Aintree Grand national bounced back with a brace courtesy of Life Of O’Reilly and Take A Shot. The Montjeu gelding Life Of O’Reilly set the wheels in motion with a workmanlike success in the two mile maiden hurdle for older horses. Settled in mid division he made smooth progress from the third last flight to lead between the final couple of hurdles and run on well to defeat Anoosou by a couple of lengths. Trained by John Kiely who told me that it has taken his charge a long time to break his duck but he has been difficult to keep right. He likes the prevailing fast ground and will contest a handicap next.
Take a shot from the Francis Flood yard completed the double with a narrow victory in the first division of the two mile and four handicap hurdle. Coming from the rear of the sixteen runner field the seven year old finished strongly to lead well after the last hurdle and defeat the long time leader Fair Dilemma by a neck.
Ut Love was a somewhat surprise winner of the concluding bumper in the hands of Mikey Fogarty to credit trainer Matthieu Palussiere with his second winner since moving from his former base at South Lodge to the Curragh but many will have noted Kilbarry Classic which finished in fifth place. Owned by well known orthopaedic surgeon Tadgh O’Sullivan the four year old suffered traffic problems when attempting his challenge and was not punished, he will take some beating when he next appears in a similar type contest.