Tag Archive for: Journey With Me

Journey With Me firmly on track for Ballymore challenge

Journey With Me maintained his unbeaten record but was made to work in the Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Novice Hurdle at Naas.

Henry de Bromhead’s charge is one of the main fancies for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham next month and was sent off the 4-11 favourite to make it two out of two over hurdles.

That was mainly on the strength of the form of his first win – a victory over Gordon Elliott’s Minella Crooner, who went close in Grade One company at the Dublin Racing Festival, while Kilcruit was back in third.

The pace on this occasion was tawdry, so Rachael Blackmore decided to kick on and from there it was all about when she decided to go for home.

Having injected some speed with half a mile to run which found the well-regarded O’Toole flat-footed, Choice Of Words and Pinkerton were still travelling well.

It was not until the second-last that Journey With Me began to pull away but Choice Of Words kept him honest.

The winning distance was three lengths, with De Bromhead’s charge now as low as 7-2 for the Ballymore.

“We’re happy with that. We just said we’d sit him in and see if he’d be happy enough to settle away as he’s always making it,” said De Bromhead.

“In a normal race he would have been, but after half a mile Rachael had to go on. He was good, still a bit green in front, but I’m happy with him.

“Obviously further will suit him, I hope. Nothing is set in stone but I’d say, in my head, I’d be going for the Ballymore. That’s two-five.

“We’ll discuss it with connections, today was great and we’ll enjoy that.”

Earlier Padraig Roche’s Brazil (9-4 favourite) got off the mark at the fourth attempt in the Private Security Ltd Cleaning And Maintenance Supporting Kill GAA Rated Novice Hurdle.

The race has produced a couple of winners of the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham, but a trip across the water is far from certain.

“That’s great, he’s after running three nice races and it’s great that he got the job done there today,” said Roche.

“He handled the ground and jumped well so we’re delighted. Mark (Walsh) was happy with him, I’d say it wasn’t the strongest of races.

“We’ll probably stay at home with him for soft ground. JP (McManus) and Frank (Berry) will have a chat and see where we go next.”

Walsh went on to complete a treble, winning the second division of the maiden hurdle on Willie Mullins’ Goven (6-4) before the pair also teamed up to win the feature BBA Ireland Limited Opera Hat Mares Chase through 2-13 favourite Elimay.

Elimay got back to winning ways
Elimay got back to winning ways (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We’re delighted to win the Opera Hat Chase, named after a famous mare. I don’t know whether Elimay can be as good as her, but we’ll try our best,” said Mullins.

“She’ll go for the Mrs Paddy Power Mares Chase now. Mark was happy that she carried him the whole way and she did everything that he asked her.

“On her last run she was backing off her fences a little bit. The first-time cheekpieces could have been the reason for improvement today or maybe just making the running. She seemed to like it.”

Mullins completed his own treble when Billaway won the Congratulations To Naas GAA On An Incredible Year Hunters Chase for the third successive year.

“He did that very efficiently, very well. I couldn’t find fault in anything the horse did there, he galloped and jumped and did everything you’d want,” said Mullins.

“It’s a great prep for next month (Cheltenham). He needed it badly the first day and I had to get a run into him.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t backfire here today and it didn’t, it brought him on enough. Everything went according to plan.”

Kilcruit only third as Journey With Me takes Leopardstown honours

Top-class bumper horse Kilcruit suffered a second successive shock defeat as Journey With Me maintained his unbeaten record in the Pigsback.com Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Hugely impressive at last season’s Dublin Racing Festival, Kilcruit was narrowly denied by stablemate Sir Gerhard in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham before reversing that form at Punchestown.

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old was beaten at odds of 1-14 on his hurdling debut at Cork last month and was the 4-9 favourite to bounce back on day four of Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival.

Ridden by Paul Townend, Kilcruit tracked Henry de Bromhead’s point-to-point and bumper winner Journey With Me for much of the two-and-a-half-mile contest, but it was clear from the home turn he was struggling to bridge the gap.

With Rachael Blackmore in the saddle, the leader galloped all the way to the line to prevail by three and a half lengths from Minella Crooner, who beat the disappointing Kilcruit to the runner-up spot.

Betfair cut Journey With Me to 5-1 from 12-1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

De Bromhead said: “I’m delighted with him – he’s a lovely horse. He obviously won his bumper well and his point-to-point and he did it really well there.

“He’s won a maiden hurdle and there’s still a long way to go, but I’m delighted with that.

“He’s bucked the trend of our Christmas anyhow, one of the few to buck it, so that’s great. It must mean he’s a good horse if he can win this week!”

Royal Kahala (right) claimed Grade Three honours
Royal Kahala (right) claimed Grade Three honours (Donall Farmer/PA)

Royal Kahala lunged late to claim top honours in the Grade Three Advent Surety Irish EBF Mares Hurdle.

Narrowly denied by the reopposing Dysart Diamond in a Listed event at Punchestown last month, Peter Fahey’s 11-4 chance went one better with a neck verdict over Heaven Help Us under Kevin Sexton.

“We’ll keep her to the mares’ races this season and next season when she goes over fences, I think she’ll really come into her own over two and a half or three miles,” said Fahey.

“She’s been in great nick. She had a great comeback run and I think she’ll improve again from today.

“That (Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham) will be the plan and she’ll have a run somewhere before then.

“She’s just different gravy at home. The more rain that comes between now and Cheltenham the better.”

Good Time Jonny and Kevin Sexton powered to victory
Good Time Jonny and Kevin Sexton powered to victory (Donall Farmer/PA)

Sexton went on to complete a double aboard the Tony Martin-trained Good Time Jonny (6-1) in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle, before The Nice Guy (evens) sent favourite backers home happy by landing the concluding Plusvital Flat Race.

The victory means Willie and Patrick Mullins teamed up to win all four bumpers run at Leopardstown, while the champion trainer has saddled a staggering 15 winners in total across the four days at Leopardstown and Limerick combined.

He said: “It’s tremendous for Patrick to win the four bumpers. It’s a good thing he’s on our team and we’re not having to pitch up against him every day!

“I thought we had a really good bumper team and I think Patrick felt the same, so I’m very happy.”

Willie Mullins at Leopardstown
Willie Mullins at Leopardstown (Donall Farmer/PA)

Of The Nice Guy, Mullins said: “We were going to go jumping with him after he won at Fairyhouse, but he’d have had to take on Sir Gerhard or Kilcruit.

“The maiden hurdles are so hot here we said we’d stick him in the winner’s bumper and see what it turned out like. I’m delighted to get two bumpers out of him.

“He’s six turning seven and he’ll probably go jumping in the new year.”