Trainer Joseph O’Brien and jockey Mark Walsh combined to win the first National Hunt race run in either Britain or Ireland in almost three months at Limerick on Monday.
While Flat action resumed on both sides of the Irish Sea in early June, no racing has taken place over jumps in Ireland since Clonmel’s card on March 24 due to the coronavirus pandemic. There has been no National Hunt action in Britain since the meetings at Wetherby and Taunton March 17, but jumping is set to resume with the fixture at Southwell on July 1.
Gavin Cromwell’s Bentham was the 5-6 favourite for the first division Well Done To All Frontline Staff From Limerick Racecourse Maiden Hurdle, but was he was unable to reel in 4-1 shot Filon D’Oudairies, who carried the colours of JP McManus to a two-length victory.
O’Brien’s assistant, Brendan Powell, said: “He was fit and well and jumped beautifully. Mark said he was very slick over his hurdles.
“He can be keen and settled well in front today. He keeps himself well and doesn’t take much to get him fit.
“We kept a certain amount of jumpers going during lockdown and they were ready to go – it’s a nice way to start back.”
O’Brien, Walsh and McManus were well fancied to complete a quickfire double in division two, but 13-8 market leader Pasley could only finish a distant fifth behind Tom Foley’s 20-1 shot Rebel Gold, ridden by Paddy Kennedy.
“That’s my first winner for Tom and I work with Pat (Foley, the trainer’s son) in Jessie’s (Harrington),” said the winning jockey.
“They have done a good job with that horse; he was very free early on and Pat put all his work into settling him and it worked. He told me he’d go close today and he was right.
“He loves that ground and he should improve again. He’ll be a nice summer horse and there might be a nice novice for him at Galway.
“It was nice to get the season started with a winner.”
The Charles Byrnes-trained Poseidon was a 3-1 winner of the It’s Good To Be Back At Limerick Racecourse Hurdle in the hands of 5lb claimer Cathal Landers.
Byrnes said: “He is consistent and ran up to his rating. He jumped really well and he likes that ground.
“He could run on the Flat also for the summer, and I’ll look for something before Galway.”
Sean Flanagan was in double in form, scoring aboard Laureate (20-1) for Colm McBratney in the Patrickswell Handicap Hurdle and the Colin Bowe-trained Hellow Pilgrim (10-1) in the Croom Handicap Hurdle.