Kilbeggan, 19th July

Episode two in the “You won’t fit a racecourse in there! Wanna bet?” tour. Actually this turned out not to be so true here as Kilbeggan is far less hilly and more spacious than it looks on television. The course is an almst pentagonal thing of just a touch further than a mile round, that undulates over gentle rolls throughout. Imagine horse racing on a giant green jelly… Viewing is pretty good, although sometimes the ambulance gets in the way as the short internal road means that it overtakes the runners. The announcer stated that this was “a big meeting for Kilbeggan” but the crowd, which was not poor, must have taken a hit from rain and thunderstorms. Also, it gets a very high grade for the quality of cup of tea available. For those with other focuses, the range of cream cakes for a small track was outstanding.

Going: Good, Good to Yielding places – presumably the first two cloudbursts eased it.

Race 1: Tom McCormack Memorial Cup Mares’ Maiden Hurdle [2m 4f]

1: Payngo     2: Gambling Mistress     3: Bridgets Cross

Winner owned: Gerard Mullins, trained: Margaret Mullins, ridden: Danny Mullins

Four non-runners made this race look a little easier than at the time of declarations but everyone seemed to have decided that Gambling Mistress was not to be beaten, and she started odds-on. Always in and out of the lead, she seemed to have moved on decisively from the third last, but Payngo suddenly closed the gap in comfort and then cruised on for a wide margin victory. Paid and went, from the runner-up's persepctive. Apparently Gambling Mistress had not been consulted on potential outcomes and was thus not able to forecast her own tame finish. After a recent chase spell with results of 9FFF, it is probably safe to expect Payngo to remain in the hurdles realm for a while. Bridgets Cross showed some minor bumper promise and more in her recent third hurdling try and whilst she never shaped to be a possible winner, she stayed on notably and could have been second with a bit more effort demanded.

One to note: Bridgets Crosss

One to aviod: Gambling Mistress

Race 2: Coola Maiden Hurdle [2m]

1: Razoul     2: Monkeylou     3: Brog Ahaon

Winner owned: Ballygallon Stud Ltd, trained: Ray Cody, ridden: Donagh Meyler

A rather comfy win for Razoul, whose form justified starting favourite but looked a bit wobbly to see him slightly odds-on. This was Ray Cody's first win as a trainer and whilst he was clearly very excited in the post-race interview, Razoul had taken almost all the tension out of the moment with a fair way still to race. Main danger Monkeylou secured second whilst eliminating the "danger" element from his role and freewheeling leader Brog Ahaon (nice type, still time to improve) showed the limitations of the other runners by holding third without too much mental anguish. Based on the name, Yamato was expected to be a vast construction, packed to the rafters with firepower. Instead, the other side of tale of the ship with which he shares a name was shown - out on a mission with only enough fuel to do half of it.

One to note: Brog Ahaon.
The youngsters try to bring chaos at the start but fail. The foreground is filled by Rathronan (9) and Brog Ahaon (5). The rest, left to right, are Yamato, Grey Lantern, Its My Deal, Happy Jacky, De Grey Mink, Dollar Value, Parabellum, Inner Spirit, Inspired Choice and Monkeylou. The hidden pair must therefore be Razoul (behind Parabellum?) and Tommy Hillfilly (behind Inner Spirit?).

Race 3: Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Misty Millie     2: Arctic Light     3: Hickey’s Rock

Winner owned: Michael O’Neill, trained: Garvan Donnelly, ridden: Rachael Blackmore

Alterno is one to be wary of as he had a serious thought about not lining up to start. However, UK-Jumping has a theory on this, and as you will imagine, it is totally and ruthlessly logical. The band in the marquee near the paddock were playing “Let Your Love Flow” and he really did not appreciate it one bit. However, when followed it with “Some Girls” he calmed down. Obviously it is in the breeding for a thoroughbred to appreciate The Bellamy Brothers less than Racey, but the bad was clearly still in his mind once on the course. As for actual racing Misty Millie put in a neatly decisive turn of foot two from home to take the lead, and the visual impression was that she dashed to success from a hard working Arctic Light (in first time cheekpieces and no tongue tie after seven months off). However, Hickey's Rock, who had been clear in front much of the way, had failed to give up and was rallying again late on, hinting that the finish was not the sprint that seemed to have happened. Atlas made a dangerous move on the heels of Misty Millie but when asked for really hard work, Atlas shrugged - finishing fourth.

One to note: Arctic Light
Hickey's Rock is keen to get on with this as another rainfall beckons. The JP McManus pair Arctic Light (4) and Dundrum Lad will not let him have all his own way. And in turn Billy's Angel (two shades of blue) and Misty Millie know that they need to keep an eye on the green and gold. Atlas (8), Here In The Dark (6) and Song Of Namibia realise that there is no need to rush whilst Alterno is making a musical protest.

Race 4: Best Dressed Lady Competition At Kilbeggan Races Handicap Hurdle [3m1f]

1: Bye Bye O Bye     2: Eimear     3: Miracle Way

Winner owned: D Greaslish, trained: Michael Griffin, ridden: Davy Russell

The surprise on this result was the absence of Toosey from the first three, as he led after the second last going well and has proven that he stays this far. For whatever reason the petrol tank emptied and he was finally a rather tepid Toosey in sixth. The way that Bye Bye O Bye pounced on him and swept into the lead suggests that even an in-form Toosey would not have had enough to offer (he seems to be better in chases anyway), but it was an impressive acceleration from the winner considering that he is twelve years old, and has not been the most prolific assembler of triumphs over his career. It was a dozen lengths back to Eimear in second, who is not unaccustomed to finishing as runner-up, but usually does so by less than a length. Miracle Way is an interesting comparison for the form, having finished fourth at Downpatrick on Monday. That did not look to be a strong race but he gave it something of a thumbs up here - in first time blinkers. Classic Escape was only a whisker back in fourth and his recent form instantly cancels the positives for Miracle Way. Fifth was Le Hachette who needs much softer going than was the case here, even after a couple of downpours.

One to note: Le Hachette

One to avoid: Eimear

Race 5: Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase [2m 6f]

1: Westland Row     2: Minella Times     3: Eamon High

Winner owned: Mrs Caren Walsh & John Doyle, trained: Gordon Elliott, ridden: Denis O’Regan

A nerves of steel success for Denis O'Regan and his matter of fact sidekick. In his previous five chases three good efforts from paddock pick Westland Row were undermined by a fall and an unseat, so in order to prevent panic (we presume) he meandered around in the rear. And stayed there. And stayed there. And stayed... no wait, finally some progress was made, resulting that between the last two fences Westland Row went from back of the pack to nosing ahead, and all that energy saved left him easily able to control the run-in. After a 70 lengths hammering on chase debut, Minella Times got a tongue tie today. It did a lot of good, but unfortunately for him the winner was just too strong. Eamon High surprisingly got outstayed from the second last - he had won a 2m 6f hurdle recently to show that stamina is not lacking. The view is worth entertaining that he did nothing wrong but the first pair simply ran really well. Eamon High is strongly built but a bit squat (Eamon Low might have been a better name) and perhaps chasing is not going to be his best job. Stoneford was on the heels of the leaders but weakening when he fell at the final fence. Although he looks like a chaser he has not yet got the skills worked out. If he had finished, Presentingprincess - a three time point winner who also looked very well ahead of the race - would have likely still finished fourth. Finally we come to Ivanovich Gorbatov.When he won the 2015 Triumph Hurdle our post race verdict was that he was the lucky recipient of an awful renewal, and his strike rate since that has been an endorsement of that. He has now contested four chases and showed zero aptitude for the discipline.

Ones to Note: Westland Row, Minella Times

One to shun: Ivanovich Gorbatov

Race 6: AXA Smart Farm Insurance Midlands National Handicap Chase [3m 1f]

1: Na Trachtalai Abu     2: Tesseract     3: Oscar Knight

Winner owned: Robcour, trained: James Motherway, ridden: JJ Burke

The big race of the year and it all changed at the final fence. Barra had the race completely under control when he stuttered into the final fence and crumpled on landing. One of those incidents where it would appear that stamina might have caught him out (third the 2018 Coral Cup and a 2m 6f beginners' chase win here when not put under stress were as far as he had gone in the past). However, the thought is always there - with the benefit of hindsight - that being ridden more aggressively into the fence would have made the horse more decisive. What was left was three horses in a nose to nose to nose battle for first, which was grabbed by Na Trachtalai Abu by a neck, with favourite Tesseract holding Oscar Knight off for second by half a length. This was only Na Trachtalai Abu's second chase win but he has been second five times, three by less than a length, so perhaps expecting an immediate follow-up is not the best idea around. Tesseract yo-yoed up and down the field throughout, but with the field stretching and closing several times in the race, he may have gone more steadily and just let the rest be daft around him. The summary of Oscar Knight's race was "hit third, soon in rear, never travelling" so to be a close third, even with a touch of fortune, was an amazing effort, especially for a horse winless beyond 2m 4f. Of course, it does not convince that he is poised to put in a sweeter shift soon. Fourth was the rather huge Ned Stark, best of Gordon Elliott's six runners after Barra was grounded (he also had two non-runners).
A fast pace and things are still a bit manic two laps into the race. Full Cry (blue hoop) and paddock pick Rathnure Rebel (blue cap) are forcing it from Icantsay. Na Trachtalai Abu is last but one on the inner, just behind Timiyan and next to Oscar Knight. The white capped JP McManus colours in about fourth is Tesseract, with Ned Stark (in green, white and red) on his heels. Barra is the one in maroon and white to their left

Race 7: Book Online For Discounts Flat Race [2m 4f]

1: Santana Plessis     2: Tudors Glory     3: No Way Pedro

Winner owned: D Charlesworth, trained: Gordon Elliott, ridden: Jamie Codd

A closing event of great suspense. After four places in five bumpers that involved being beaten favourite three times, Santana Plessis cruised clear along with the the progressing Tudors Glory and we had to guess whether he would finish the job off today. Initially he looked as if another ignominious failure was on the way, but once Santana Plessis got his head in front, the gap was readily widened and Tudors Glory accepted second, easily done when you are a distance clear of the remaining runners. He knows the scene because he had a loss of that nature on bumper debut, showing up better at Wexford subsequently.

One to note: Tudors Glory
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