Tipperary Season Review
Monday, 8 October 2012
Once again in 2012, some very smart horses raced at Tipperary during the year with some notable performances coming from animals that went on to better things at a higher level. Due to the wet weather that pertained throughout the majority of the summer months, the ground was often quite testing which led to some small fields especially for the juvenile contests but even so the winners’ two year old race on May 3rd produced a couple of smart types with Canary Row winning for trainer Patrick Prendergast while the third placed horse, Dylanbaru, from the Tommy Stack yard subsequently finished second in the Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh before taking third place in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot. That very same evening also saw a win for the John Oxx trained Hartani, a horse who was to come back to Tipperary three weeks later and score again in a conditions race before striding to an impressive success in the At The Races Curragh Cup at the Curragh on Derby weekend. He subsequently was just denied in the Irish St Leger Trial Stakes over the same course in late August before
That same meeting on May 3rd also produced a very noteworthy winner in the shape of Gordon Lord Byron, trained by Tom Hogan and ridden by Fran Berry. It may have looked a typically competitive sprint handicap on that occasion but Gordon Lord Byron went on to become one of the most improved horses in the country a couple of months later. He subsequently finished a close up third in the Scurry Handicap at the Curragh on Derby Day before just failing to land the Keeneland Phoenix Sprint Stakes over the same course in August. However, he bounced back to winning ways when scoring an impressive win at York in mid-August and then surpassed that excellent effort with a top performance to take second place in the Group One Haydock Sprint Cup in early September. When Gordon Lord Byron won at Tipperary that evening, a filly called My Girl Anna finished in third place. Trained by Muredach Kelly, this filly went on to Group race glory when proving a most deserving winner of the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh in late August and looks well capable of further success at this level before the year is out.
Other notable flat winners at Tipperary in 2012 were a couple of ultra smart juveniles. The Danehill Dancer Tipperary Stakes held on July 24th witnessed a hard fought success for the Aidan O’Brien trained Parliament Square who then proceeded to finish a close up third to Reckless Abandon in the Group One Prix Morny in France on his very next start. Tyrone based Andy Oliver also struck with a classy sort in the shape of First Cornerstone in the Coolmore Canford Cliffs Stakes on August 8th. He was a shock 33/1 winner on that occasion but proved that performance was no fluke by then taking the Group 2 Galileo EBF Futurity Stakes at the Curragh three weeks later which has been won by some very high class horses in the past and after this display, he was officially rated 112 by the Turf Club Handicapper. The Fairy Bridge Stakes has long been established as a race which attracts some very promising fillies and the 2012 renewal was no exception with the spoils going to Jim Bolger’s Lady Wingshot, who just a month earlier had captured the first running of the Arthur Guinness Corrib Fillies Stakes at the Galway Festival while the evergreen Inxile proved too strong for his rivals for the second consecutive year in the Abergwaun Stakes on 8th August. Trained by Dandy Nicholls in England, Inxile was winning his seventh race in Ireland over the past few years on that occasion and he is likely to be back for more again in the near future.
On the National Hunt scene, the star performer was undoubtedly Rebel Fitz who proved a convincing winner of the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle on 22nd July. Trained by Michael Winters and given a perfect ride by Davy Russell, Rebel Fitz defeated Captain Cee Bee in fine style before taking the hugely competitive Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap at the big Galway Summer Festival just 11 days later which gave rise to memorable scenes of jubilation in the winners enclosure. Rebel Fitz duly followed up at Cork the following month and at this stage of his progression is a lively outside challenger for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. Other good National winners during were the likes of Catcherinscratcher, Pageboy, Alpine Eagle, Glens Melody, Pique Sous and Whispering Hills.