Three apiece for Hannon and Moore on the opening day of the Flat season at Doncaster, but the Lincoln slipped through their grasp thanks to Helmsley handler David O’Meara.
Ryan Moore had booted home the first three winners on the card, which included Tupi and Kool Kompany for the Hannon yard. Punters launched into his Lincoln mount, Oh This Is Us, turning a 12/1 shot into a 7/2 short-priced favourite. The ‘monster’ gamble looked likely to be landed until well inside the final furlong, when O’Meara’s ex-Ballydoyle inmate Bravery, swept late and wide to steal the prize.
The Yorkshire handler has a habit of maximising the potential of one that has perhaps disappointed a little elsewhere. Tried over further by O’Brien last year, the mile trip on Saturday appeared ideal for Bravery, as he smoothly gunned down the opposition.
“He travelled well. He's run as far as a mile and a half in Ireland so it was a bit of a guessing game whether a mile would be too sharp for him,” said O’Meara after the win. “He ran well in a lot of good races in Ireland so this would be a drop in class for him. I'm really happy. It's great.”
The trainer continued: “I thought it was a fantastic ride. After the Spring Mile, Danny said he was going to bite the bullet and take him over to the far side. He purposely missed the break, which helped get him settled, and he made a beeline to get over there. It was a very confident ride, because he hadn't ridden much in the winter but he's obviously not rusty.”
Tudhope was clearly thrilled with the performance, and said: “It was impossible to know what sort of a race he'd run to be honest, as we didn't know much about him. After the Spring Mile, I'd said to David I'd take him over there, just to get him settled more than anything, and I managed to get him switched off. He looks an exciting horse, hopefully we can go back up in class.”
A hike in the handicap could force O’Meara’s hand at some point, though another crack at a valuable handicap seems more than likely in the short-term.
The runner-up is sure to remain competitive going forward. Still only a four-year-old, Oh This Is Us looks to have a ‘big handicap’ in him, though his odds could prove prohibitive. One from down the field that did catch my eye, was the Karl Burke trained You’re Fired. It’s tough to call the six-year-old unexposed, and he may need to come down the handicap another couple of pounds, nevertheless, this run showed he’s close to another trip to the winners’ enclosure. Stuck in traffic on the wrong side of the track, he was denied a clear run on several occasions, but finished with a rattle. He’ll be a decent each-way proposition next time he runs, and I’ll be on him.
As a taster for the Flat season ahead, Doncaster certainly did its job. Hannon and Moore burst out the traps in fine style, whilst O’Meara reminded everyone of just how good he is with new recruits. Expect more of the same in the months ahead.