Tipperary’s premier meeting of the year, Super Sunday, passed a morning inspection and attracted a good attendance, helped no doubt by the decision of the track management to give complimentary admission to the first 100 people to arrive, with free access also to all those under 18. The eight race mixed card boasted almost €155,000 in win prize money and the racing proved very competitive on gound described as heavy on the flat course and soft on the jumps courses.
The main honours of the afternoon went to trainer Dermot Weld, who saddled a double on the flat and Davy Russell, who contributed two National Hunt wins.
The biggest prize of the meeting was won by Weld, whose 5/2 joint favourite Anam Alta took the €42,250 to the winner Coolmore Stud Home of Champions Concorde Stakes (Group 3) in very impressive style. There were four absentees due to ground conditions but it hardly affected the result, as Anam Alta scored by no less than six lengths from Bay Knight, with Across The Rhine three and a half lengths back in third place. Declan McDonogh had the winning ride aboard the Invincible Spirit filly, which is owned by the Ballylinch Stud.
The Curragh trainer had earlier taken the opening event, The Athassel House Stud European Breeders Fund Maiden, with the 5/1 chance Mahazeen, which stayed on well under pressure to get the better of the Aidan O’Brien trained front runner Canary Wharf by half a length. Another O’Brien runner, Thomas Gainsborough, went off the 2/1 favourite but could only finish fifth. Mahazeem, which ran in the colours of Hamdan Al Maktoum, was partnered by five pound claimer Lee Roche.
The locals enjoyed the success of the 11/2 chance Maundy Money in the Tipperary Handicap, run over seven and a half furlongs. Trained just down the road in Bansha by David Marnane, this 8 year-old gelding, with conditions in his favour, was given a very strong ride by Sam James to get the better of Independent Girl inside the final furlong and score by a length and a half. Maundy Money is owned by the Push The Button Syndicate.
The first of the National Hunt events was the Friends of Tipperary Hurdle, which sported a first prize of over €34,000 and in the absence of Captain Cee Bee it was won very convincingly by the 11/4 favourite The Real Article, which led after two out and quickened clear under Barry Geraghty to defeat Luska Lad by eight lengths. Trainer Edward O’Grady made an early morning visit to the track to walk the course before giving his runner the green light and the decision paid off handsomely. Post race, the winner was given a quote of 33/1 from Paddy Power for the Champion Hurdle.
Davy Russell’s first winner of the afternoon came courtesy of the 4/5 jolly Tavern Times, which romped to a bloodless 17 length win over Bleakfield Lady in the Dolores Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle (Grade 3). Tavern Times, which is trained by Tom Mullins for owner Mrs. Paul Duffin, will be upped to Grade 1 for his next outing, The Royal Bond Chase.
With the earlier defection of Captain Cee Bee rider A.P. McCoy was left with just one mount, Double Seven, in the Woodlands Hotel Adare Handicap Hurdle over two and a half miles and punters supported this one from 11/4 to 9/4 favourite. The market leader duly obliged and having challenged Mubrook at the final hurdle he stayed on best in the closing stages to score by a length and a half. Double Seven was completing a hat trick of wins, having already scored at Tipperary before doubling up at Galway.
The Milan gelding is trained by Martin Brassil for James P. McManus.
Davy Russell completed his double aboard Cheltenham winner First Lieutenant, which was the 4/7 hot pot for the Like A Butterfly Novice Chase (Grade 3). Making his chasing bow the favourite led into the straight and was ridden out to defeat Slieveardagh by a length and three quarters. Owned by the Gigginston House Stud, First Lieutenant is trained outside Fethard by Mouse Morris and thus became the third Tipperary trained winner of the afternoon.
The final event of the day was the Tipperary Co-op Hardware and Super Valu Irish National Hunt Flat Race, a winners’ bumper in which all seven runners had enjoyed at least one previous victory. Saint Gervais was an odds-on favourite but made little impression in the closing stages and could only finish fifth behind the winner Shu Lewis, which came from last to first to register a third career win. Backed from 9/2 to 7/2, the winner got the better of Maller Tree by three-quarters of a length. She is owned, trained and was bred in Newbridge by Monica Dowdall Blake and was ridden by her niece Miss Linzi Dowdall.
The tote aggregate best for the meeting was €59,137.72, which compared favourably with the €57,446.50 wagered at the corresponding meeting a year ago.
The Jackpot Pool amounted to €5,000 and 43 winners each received €87.20. The PlacePot pool was €18,213.69 and there were 304.04 winning units, each receiving €44.90.