A ‘schamozzle’ on the final bend, then Walsh kicks into action

It was a slow day at the tents. Not even the biting wind could drive clients to the warm embrace of Hunter wellies and Barbour coats

Ruby Walsh celebrates on Annie Power after winning the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse yesterday. Photograph:  Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ruby Walsh celebrates on Annie Power after winning the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse yesterday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho


There was a “schamozzle” on the final bend, explained wining trainer Willie Mullins before his promising mare Annie Power kicked for home. Whatever that is, Willie didn’t say, but it enabled Ruby Walsh to click into action. It was just the second race of the Easter festival, but this was just what the punters had come for.

In a flash he went from last to first and, to the thrill of the 6,500 crowd, many of whom had taken a punt on the long odds-on favourite, Annie Power cantered home. A good start for the punters, not such a promising one for the bookies, but with seven races and a further two days to go of the Easter festival, they needn’t have worried. The punters’ banker had already come home.

“She’s something special,” said Willie of the new European breeders’ fund mares novice hurdle champion as the winning owner pocketed a cheque for €60,000. “She’s beaten everything so far.” Take note of that name, Willie said so.

While there was a good country roar for the winner of that race, there was genuine delight at the next race which produced a nod for nod finish with Mala Beach, trained locally by Gordon Elliott, taking it on the line from Defy Logic, a JP McManus horse under Tony McCoy. That warmed the atmosphere on a bitterly cold afternoon and left more than a few punters rubbing their hands on the way to the bookies.

It was a slow day at the tents. The pizza stand seemed deserted and not even the biting easterly wind drove the clients towards the warm embrace of the Hunter wellies and Barbour coats stalls. Some did pause to examine the appeal of Possum fur insoles and with good reason.

JP and AP didn’t have to wait too long before things turned good for them.

Call Rog – now where did that name come from, the course commentator wondered aloud – clipped over the last for a flying finish. It seemed an answer to prayer for those with cash riding on the horse named after an inspirational call by former Irish rugby captain Paul O’Connell.

JP explained the story. “I got that name from Paul, he used to say ‘Any problem – just call Rog’.”

Rog, or Ronan O’Gara, is a great man for the horses, we were told and this horse is another tip for the future. “He’s done a fair job of it,” said the owner. A well wrapped-up Mc Manus seemed oblivious to the cold as did his jockey in his green and gold silks. Only a massive Mr Tayto kept a fixed smile in the chill.

Model and TV presenter Roz Purcell presented the children’s Easter bonnet prize to twins Cian and Chloe Tobin (9). Race five saw the spoils go to a Tony Mullins-trained fancy Sammy Black and the Best Turned Out prize go to the McParland owned and bred Kilmainham.

Gleeson Butchers were sponsors and at the trophy presentation Pat Gleeson was jokingly asked if his burgers were any good. He took it well – thankfully. Just six went to post for the Powers Whiskey Gold Cup with, no doubt Bertie-inspired, Dedigout leading the early betting. But he didn’t lead the way home. That honour went to Realt More – a huge horse and the 12-1 shot much to the delight of owners Joe and Pat Sloan and of jockey Davy Condon who surged over the line with triumphant arm aloft.

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