WHILE Leopardstown and Limerick were victims of the weather last Monday, there were no such worries for horse and pony racing as the new season kicked off on Ballyheigue Strand, Co Kerry.

For 11-year-old Dingle rider Jack Kennedy, brother of well-known National Hunt jockey Pat (P.D) it was a day he will never forget as he recorded his first double. He opened proceedings on Pair Of Jacks, his Dingle hero of last season, and they took the 12.2hh race.

Stretching clear down the back straight, the pair won in convincing style from Tail To Tail who ran a very creditable race, staying on to be second without getting a blow to the winner. Maniac took third under his new partner, Danny Sheehy.

Keith Moriarty, the rider of Tail To Tail, had to chase Jack Kennedy home again in the 14.2hh race as Molly’s Dream dominated proceedings under a very confident ride. Jack can look forward to an exciting season with these two improving campaigners.

Denis Lenihan, who is also 11 years old, is another young rider who will look forward to the season with great optimism. Miracle Loll opened his account for the new season when taking the 13.2hh race, seeing off the sustained challenge of Moody Mary to credit Denis with his fifth career win.

When the overall national honours are decided this season, many expect last season’s champion lady rider Megan Carberry to have a big say, and she racked up a double on the day at Ballyheigue.

Changing Times took the 15hh race for owner Gary Boyle, repeating his win of 12 months ago without giving his supporters any concerns. Rock Hopper then used the same front-running tactics of last year to take the featured Ballyheigue Derby over two miles for David Glanville, completing Megan’s haul.

Last season Euroking was a credit to Newmarket, Co Cork handler Aileen Daly. He ran 20 times, won seven, and never failed to win prizemoney. With a short break following his last run in October, he re-emerged as good as ever to take the 10-furlong race under last season’s champion pony rider, Conor King.

The concluding maiden race went to Never Look Back who benefited from a well-judged ride by the 17-year-old Harley Dunne. The rider is from Kiltealy in Wexford and this was his second career win. This was his final ride in horse and pony racing as he is at an advanced stage of becoming licenced as a conditional rider with Colin Bowe.

Nickname makes his mark over fences


NAME the horse that was officially the highest-rated juvenile hurdler of the last 10 years. Give up?

Well, the answer is Nickname. This amazing young horse earned an official French handicap rating that translates to a mark of no less than 165. That’s well over 20lbs ahead of anything that faced him when he won on his chasing debut at Leopardstown. This is hardly surprising when you look at Nickname’s record.

He won six graded races in France, including two Grade 1s. In total Nickname won nine of his 16 French starts. Nickname’s improvement was predictable. He is bred to improve over fences. It’s Nickname’s dam [Newness] that tells the real story. She was a chaser and won her first three over fences.


All the other four foals she produced before Nickname went chasing and all did well very early on. Two of them won on their chase debuts, another ran second first time out over the bigger jumps, and the other won second time out over fences. Nickname was therefore keeping up a great family tradition by going in at the first time of asking over the bigger jumps.

The plan now apparently is to cut Nickname back to two miles for the Baileys Arkle. If he can cope with the slightly shorter distance he’ll have a great shot at winning because he’ll be one of the fastest runners in the race judged by my speed ratings.

[Next time out Nickname won the Grade 2 Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Novice Chase at Leopardstown and shortly afterwards pulled up in the Baileys Arkle. He went on to win the Grade 1 Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown, the Grade 2 Fortria Chase at Navan, the Grade 2 Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown, the Grade 2 Newlands Chase at Naas, and the Grade 2 Normans Grove Chase run at Fairyhouse and the following year at Gowran Park.

Retired to stud in France, he died after three years. In those small crops he sired Grade 1 Ascot Chase winner Cyrname, Grade 1 King George VI Chase and Grade 1 Ryanair Chase winner Frodon, and Grade 1 Prix Maurice Gillois 4yo Grand Chase winner Royale Flag.

Nickname’s dam Newness, a listed chase winner at Auteuil, produced nine winners, six of them blacktype winners, and they also included Grade 1 winning hurdler N’Avoue Jamais, Grade 3 hurdle winner and Grade 1 runner-up Nom D’Une Pipe, and Group 3 flat winner and Group 1 placed No Risk At All, also a successful sire]

O’Grady crowned champion by a short-head


WHILE Paddy Mullins and Mick O’Toole were indulging in a personal battle to decide the champion National Hunt trainer of 1980 on the last day of the old year, the printing of the Irish Racing Calendar, a week earlier than normal because of the bank holiday, really decided the outcome.

The relevant notice stated that Thurles ‘winner’ Ramrajya had a prohibited substance present on that day in November and consequently the horse was disqualified. The promoted winner, High Appeal,

credited a vital £1,104 to Edward O’Grady, which enabled him to finish £739 in front of Paddy Mullins, who in turn was £935 ahead of Mick O’Toole.

Edward O’Grady had 28 winners of 46 races, his top money-spinner being Deep Gale (£10,440), while Torenaga (£6,959) and Oriental Sunset (£6,225) also made substantial contributions. Paddy Mullins sent out 22 winners of 37 races to aggregate £58,227. Pearlstone (£13,502) and the mare Kilbricken Money (£10,148) were his major money earners.

USSR busy purchasing bloodstock


THE horse-purchasing Commission from the United Soviet Socialist Republics has completed its present mission, and its latest acquisition was the stallion Cyclonic, who is an 11-year-old by Hurry On. He was purchased on Tuesday evening of the present week.

The Commission was introduced to Great Britain and Ireland by Senator Parkinson and Mr Dulanty, and from the Senator we hear that early next spring a further Commission from the USSR will come to Ireland with a much wider order book than that given to its predecessor.

The vastness of the USSR requires the importation of still further substantial drafts of parent stock.

The present approximate computation is that there are 30 million mares, mostly of low grade, throughout Russia. The next Commission will deal extensively in half-bred stock of sound origin.

Arrangements will be made for the accommodation of all its purchases in Great Britain and in Ireland, and for shipment of them directly from Dublin to Leningrad during the period when the Baltic in navigable. At present Senator Parkinson has at his stud in Co Kildare eight broodmares and 12 yearlings which will be transported to Russia in due course.

The buying order of the Russian Commission is numerically the largest executed ‘in one hand’ in Great Britain and Ireland, and it is a satisfactory matter that these countries have produced so many lots of bloodstock of the quality required.

Of course, the name and fame of the Irish- and English-bred thoroughbred have been known in Russia during a great many decades.

Senator Parkinson tells us that he foresees the development of reciprocal trade in a large way between Ireland and the USSR arising out of the visit of the Commission in this country.