16-year-old Byrnes with first winner at Limerick- Weekly HRI

Limerick Racing News 

Amateur rider Philip Byrnes rode his first winner when partnering Vinnie Is Busy, trained by his father Charles, to a cosy success in the bumper at Limerick on Thursday. The 16-year-old secondary school student, who rode 50 winners on the pony racing circuit, coasted to an eight and a half length win on the Anna Rowney-owned five-year-old, a 7/4 joint-favourite.

The winning trainer said afterwards,

“Philip was 16 just before Christmas and he knew the horse very well and had ridden him in all his work. He knew what he was capable of. He spent two and a half years pony racing where he had 50 winners and he won the Dingle Derby in 2018. They get great experience at that, but this is a step-up riding against the big boys.” 

Crowds come out for memorable Dublin Racing Festival 

Leopardstown came alive on Saturday, in front of a crowd of 14,204, as wonder-mare Honeysuckle produced the performance of her career to take the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle on an afternoon her rider Rachael Blackmore described as “magic” as she lit up day one of the Dublin Racing Festival. Blackmore and trainer Henry de Bromhead had already combined to take Grade 1 honours in the ERSG Arkle Novice Chase with Notebook, but a very special reception was reserved for Honeysuckle as she scored at odds of 8/11 favourite at the main expense of her own stable companion Petit Mouchoir and Gavin Cromwell’s Darver Star.

The Grade 1 Ladbrokes Dublin Chase produced a brilliant winner and a one-two for Willie Mullins as Chacun Pour Soi stamped his class on proceedings. Paul Townend, who had to choose between the winner and Min, punched the air as the 6/5 favourite prevailed by three lengths and three parts of a length.

There were huge celebrations after the opener when hugely popular trainer Paul Nolan won his first Grade 1 contest since 2013 as Latest Exhibition landed a brilliant renewal of the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors ‘€50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff’ Novice Hurdle. Ridden by Bryan Cooper, the 7/2 chance was comfortably on top of his rivals at the line, with Nolan now dreaming of Cheltenham glory with the gelding, who so nearly was sold out of the yard after winning his previous race at Navan.

Sean O’Keeffe was seen to great effect when getting Gordon Elliott off the mark for the festival, 8/1 chance Eclair De Beaufeu winning the Matheson Handicap Chase, the biggest win of the County Wexford conditional rider’s fledgling career. There was an incredible finish to the Ladbrokes Hurdle, Charles Byrnes winning it for the third year running, with gambled-on 7/1 chance Thosedaysaregone pouncing under a remarkable Kevin Brouder ride, while the closing Goffs Future Stars INH Flat Race going to Willie Mullins’ Appreciate It, who looked a bit special, under the trainer’s son Patrick. 

The second session of the Dublin Racing Festival, attended by 12,270 was highlighted by the remarkable Faugheen, which rolled back the years to take the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase. The loveable 12-year-old was out-jumped almost throughout by fellow market leader Battleoverdoyen, but he was always in touch and the crowd went wild as he took it up between the last two. Paul Townend’s gallant partner had a battle on his hands from the last as his own stable companion Easy Game threw down a determined challenge but he was more than up to the task and scored by half a length with the crowd in raptures, and many of them showing a fair turn of foot of their own as they descended on the parade ring to welcome their hero home. “

Three runs put together now, it’s fantastic. People say you should be retiring these old horses but if they have not too much mileage, they can still do it,” said trainer Willie Mullins. “His will is incredible. Every morning he’s out there on the gallop he wants to train. His attitude to racing is incredible.”

The Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup produced an epic finish of its own as Gordon Elliott took the big race of the day with Jack Kennedy steering Delta Work to a hard-earned success. Another superb spectacle saw the three horses that dominated the market in Kemboy, Delta Work and Presenting Percy, jump it almost in unison. Kemboy and Paul Townend came up the rail and he had not fully asked for his effort, having jumped the second-last brilliantly. Davy Russell had nursed Presenting Percy into contention, having been held up in rear, but Delta Work came there to lead at the last. Kemboy would not give in but Delta Work was always holding him all the way to the line.

“He settled lovely and jumped great. I was there in front for a while and he wasn’t doing a whole lot up the straight,” Kennedy said. “He has improved from the last day. To be honest I thought I got there too soon.”

Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore’s bid to make it a remarkable three Grade 1 victories at the Dublin Racing Festival running aground when the shortest-priced horse of the two days, Aspire Tower, fell at the last in the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle.

Aspire Tower fell under pressure at the last with A Wave Of The Sea coming through late on to win for Joseph O’Brien and Barry Geraghty. The unbeaten Asterion Forlonge produced a devastating display in the Grade 1 Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle, winning for Willie Mullins and his nephew Danny. Bookmakers got a result in the Gaelic Plant Hire Leopardstown Handicap Chase, Paul Gilligan’s Glamorgan Duke beating fellow 33/1 chance Trainwreck, before the closing Grade 2 Coolmore N.H. Sires Irish EBF Mares I.N.H. Flat Race went to Darling Daughter under Lisa O’Neill for Gordon Elliott who had also taken the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle with the Davy Russell-trained Black Tears. 

Other Racing News

Further growth for Irish Racing in 2019 Horse Racing Ireland have released the 2019 Irish horse racing and breeding industry statistics which confirm an increase in people attending racemeetings in Ireland and continued growth in racehorse ownership.

The number of horses returned in training in Ireland – a key driver of employment – rose for the third time in four years, with a 3% increase in 2019. New owner registrations were up by 6.8% year-on-year with over 850 new racehorse owners registered with Horse Racing Ireland. The bulk of these new registrations (600) were sole owners and partners, as well as 216 new syndicates. 

Demand for Irish horses was strong with sales and exports increasing in both value and volume terms. Commercial race sponsorship and contributions to prizemoney by racecourses continued to rise strongly, growing by another 17.3% in 2019. Over 1.3 million people attended race meetings in 2019 and on course betting increased by 4.5% year-on-year.Perhaps the most significant figure for 2019 however was the fact that, following a series of changes in betting tax arrangements, off course betting duty receipts collected by the government in 2019 amounted to €95m.

These receipts, which have grown from €26m in 2014, comfortably exceeded the Exchequer funding provided for horse racing of €67.2m. HRI Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh said,

“Horse racing generates a very significant return to the rural economy in Ireland and a positive international profile for our country. None of this success could be achieved without the support provided by the Government. 2019 was a good year for Irish racing, however the industry requires long-term certainty of funding to be able to plan strategically, not least in the context of the challenges provided by Brexit. The increased revenue from betting tax provides the basis for such a long-term funding mechanism and Horse Racing Ireland will engage actively with the incoming Government in the coming month to achieve this objective.” 

Upcoming Fixtures 

Thurles – Thursday, February 6 (First Race 1.15pm)

Dundalk – Friday, February 7 (First Race 5.30pm)

Naas – Saturday, February 8 (First Race 1.05pm)

Punchestown – Sunday, February 9 (First Race 1.45pm)

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Jack Neville