On The Go Again justifies Irish Lincolnshire favouritism

Gordon Elliott sets new record of 194 winners for Irish jumps campaign

 Gary Carroll on On The Go Again (far right ) wins the Tote Irish Lincolnsire at Naas on Sunday. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Gary Carroll on On The Go Again (far right ) wins the Tote Irish Lincolnsire at Naas on Sunday. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

The 2018 Irish flat season opened with Tote Irish Lincolnshire success for the dual-purpose star On The Go Again at Naas on Sunday.

There were inevitable ‘firsts’ all-round on day one of the new campaign but it was also an afternoon when Gordon Elliott reached a record 194 winners for Ireland’s National Hunt season.

A Downpatrick hat-trick included victory for the prolific Poorman’s Hill in the Toals Ulster National, further edging Elliott towards a remarkable double-century of winners this season.

“It’s unbelievable. Obviously we trained 193 last year which Willie [Mullins] had done before and we levelled it,” Elliott said. “I’m just unfortunate I’m around the same time as Willie Mullins. It’s great for Irish racing.”

Sunday’s haul extended Elliott’s lead over Mullins in his attempt to secure a first trainers’ championship. He has won over €4.1 1 million in prizemoney and holds an advantage of over €500,000 on his rival.   

Like Elliott, Michael Mulvany trains in Meath but describes his small team of horses as a family operation. It secured its biggest success to date with On The Go Again in the €100,000 feature at Naas.

Gary Carroll was on board the winner who brought the stamina that made him a Lartigue Hurdle winner last autumn and powered to success as a 6-1 favourite in the first major handicap of the year.

“We kept away from Cheltenham [County Hurdle] and waited for this,” said Mulvany who will keep On The Go Again to the flat before a summer return to the jumps. “We’ll probably have to look a Group race. But the long-range plan is the Galway Hurdle.”

Ronan Whelan finished runner-up in the Lincoln, stepping in for Pat Smullen on board Saltonstall. Smullen missed the meeting through illness and Leigh Roche successfully substituted on the 9-4 favourite Making Light in the Group Three highlight.

Smullen also missed Friday night’s all-weather action at Dundalk and his agent, Kevin O’Ryan, indicated the rider is suffering a gallstones issue.

“He won’t be riding at Dundalk on Wednesday either,” he said. Smullen’s boss, Dermot Weld, added: “Hopefully Pat will be back soon. He’s in a lot of pain.”

Memorable duel

Pride was the only thing hurting Roche after Making Light unseated him on the way to the start of the Lodge Park Stud Park Express Stakes.

The Moyglare Stud-owned filly didn’t take much out of herself when loose however and subsequently travelled much the best throughout the mile contest, beating Panstarr and Elegant Pose.

“I gather there are swings down the track and some children ran out and Leigh was unseated,” Weld explained. “All being well back here for the Gladness looks the logical progression. Seven furlongs shouldn’t be a problem the way she travelled there.”

Colin Keane beat Pat Smullen in a memorable duel for last year’s jockeys’ title and the champion resumed normal service with a double for Ger Lyons.

Medicine Jack landed the Group Two Railway Stakes as a juvenile but ran just once in 2017 and had Lyons throwing the dice somewhat in a six furlong handicap.

“Part of me didn’t want to run him and the other part said we’ve had all of last season off. We literally couldn’t get him to raise a gallop at home.

“We gelded him at the end of the season and kept him going. His work was okay without getting carried away. We’ll tread lightly but if he gets back to any semblance of what he was at two, we’ll have fun with him this summer,” the trainer said.

Similar sentiments applied to the newcomer Bobby Boy who overcame a hefty bump outside the furlong pole of the mile maiden to prove half a length too good for the 5-4 favourite Full Moon.

“I think he’s a smart horse. To what level he’ll improve I’m not sure. But we won’t rush him,” said Lyons.   

Co Tipperary based trainer Richard O’Brien is beginning just his second full year with a licence and wasted no time getting off the mark with the 12-1 Dianthus in the Madrid Premier Handicap.

Chris Hayes had earlier won on Katie Cruel and kept tabs on the well backed favourite London Icon throughout.

“I’d say there’s every chance she’s a stakes filly. How long I get to keep her is going to be the big question,” said O’Brien, 38, a qualified dentist, originally from West Clare, who trains a string of 18.

The first two year old race of the season went to Brendan Duke’s Pride Of Pimlico who was unruly in the paddock beforehand but got the through the testing ground best of all.

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