EASY Game warmed up for another possible Galway Plate bid by winning the four-runner John J. Galvin Chase at Listowel on Monday, as the Willie Mullins trained gelding justified 1/6 favouritism under Paul Townend.
Runner-up in last year’s Galway showpiece race, the Nick Peacock-owned eight-year-old won snugly, despite the length-and-a-half winning margin from Born By The Sea with Townend having few anxious moments.
“He was there for me if I needed a big jump at the last two, but the risk/reward for a fancy picture wasn’t for me!” Townend said.
“He is a consistent horse and lovely to be associated with and has been a good fun horse for his owners. He didn’t enjoy the ground but has that bit of class. He was in his comfort zone at all stages and he was dawdling around having a look at everything.
“He is a smashing horse, he has been at the top level and while it is hard for him in all those big handicaps carrying top weight, that is the level he is and the Galway Plate looks the obvious target now.”#
On the Money
Racing began with the Nora Canty (Mares) Maiden Hurdle where in-foal Mind Your Money (5/2) scored on her first start for her owner and new trainer Tim Hyde, and his grandson jockey Harry Swan.
Swan later reported: “I didn’t think she’d handle the ground, I won a bumper on her on good ground but she quickened away from the last and won well.
“She is a lovely mare and is in foal to Walk In The Park. Timmy had her spot on today and it was a brilliant training performance.”
Thirty-five minutes later the John B. Keane (C & G) Maiden Hurdle was won by Desert Friend (10/1) for trainer Denis Hogan, in-form jockey Donagh Meyler and the YerManMilan Syndicate.
A four-time flat winner, the son of Universal today won readily by eight lengths from Moulane West and afterwards Meyler said: “There wasn’t much pace on and I was happy enough as he travelled and jumped well. He quickened the whole way up the straight.
“I was second on him here last September and he likes it here.”
The feature race of the day was the E22,000 Bryan MacMahon Handicap Hurdle with Molly Wedger (15/2) proving to be a very popular winner for dairy farmer and trainer Dermot O’Brien and the successful Kilbriens Syndicate.
Winning jockey Brian Hayes subsequently received a bucket-soaking from syndicate members during a TV interview post-race with trainer O’Brien later reporting: “The 12-member syndicate are all local to Dungarvan and are very happy!
“She ran a very good race the last day in Killarney and we thought she was coming back to form but the ground wasn’t ideal, although it was loose. She is tough and stays going. She was second in Galway last year so we might go back there.
“I’m a dairy farmer, I’ve two in training and the other one (Moresby Buoy) was second first-time out in Tramore on Friday night.”
The other chase was the Listowel Supporters Club Hunters Chase where Stand Up And Fight (2/5f) defeated five rivals to win for trainer Enda Bolger, jockey Aine O’Connor and owner J.P. McManus.
The 10-year-old raced prominently throughout, shook off his rivals in the home straight and beat runner-up Stamp Your Feet by 11 lengths.
O’Connor is due to marry former jockey Niall Madden in the coming weeks, and after today’s race Bolger said: “The better horses are gone out of the picture at this time of year so we’ll hope to repeat the dose next year when we’ll have a Mrs Madden riding him!
“It is a pity there isn’t another race left for him but that’s it now for the season. The race cut up a bit but I liked the way he went away again in the end.”
THERE was a family success in the Mike Lawlee Memorial Handicap Hurdle as jockey Mark McDonagh rode a winner for his uncle owner Darragh McDonagh on the Eoin Griffin-trained Navigator Jack (14/1 to 11s).
Navigator Jack raced prominently throughout and while strongly pressed by Gringo D’Ainay jumping the last, found more on the run-in and won by a length and three-parts.
Afterwards winning trainer Eoin Griffin said: “He had a very promising run in a bumper here first time out and just was a bit disappointing after that. It took a bit of time for the penny to drop over hurdles and even there he wasn’t the most fluent at some of his hurdles.
“He hadn’t been settling in his races all along and I said to Mark there was no use in fighting with him and to let him bounce out and be positive. In fairness Mark gave him a nice ride and got a breather into him and he hung on.
“Dominic Murphy and his friend Darragh McDonagh, who is Mark’s uncle, own him.”
The concluding bumper was won by the John McConnell-trained Hot As Pepper (7/4), a former point-to-point winner, who scored for jockey Ben Harvey and the Dream’s Alive Syndicate.
The daughter of Milan made all and held the challenge of On The Sixth Day by two and a half lengths. Afterwards McConnell stated: “We fancied her - getting the weight - and were a bit unsure about the ground, but I thought she would handle it.
“The lads will have plenty of fun with her. They are new owners (Dream’s Alive Syndicate) and I’m delighted to get a win on board for them.”