With the shock and sudden closure of UK racing on Thursday, Thurles had the stage to itself, and the best wine was certainly kept ’til last.
All day long the money, the milk and honey, had been rolling in for the Joseph O’Brien trained Sempo and the 11/8 hot-pot delivered in style.
Understandably there was much attention paid to the Willie Mullins trained first timer Amen Korner, a full brother to Augusta Kate who is, like her, owned by a syndicate which includes Ant and Dec, Alan Shearer and golfer Lee Westwood.
Sent off the 100/30 second favourite, he was second at half way but quickly weakened and finished second last of the 16 runners. On examination post race he was found to be clinically abnormal.
No doubt there will be other days for him, but this was all about Sempo who skated home 15 lengths clear for Derek O’Connor.
Joseph was well pleased. “You never expect them to win like that but we always though a lot of him, and he ran well at Leopardstown at Christmas.”
“I’m not sure there is any advantage in going for a winners bumper, but he’s a lovely novice hurdler to look forward to for next year” he said.
That completed a first and last race double for ace amateur rider and Point to Point king O’Connor.
In the opener, he booted home 11/8 favourite Ex Patriot for Ellmarie Holden, their task made easier when market rival Arvico Bleu fell at the last.
The Rachael Blackmore ridden 9/4 fancy held a slight advantage over Ex Patriot at that stage but the fences are there to be jumped.
The ten year old local runner All The Chimneys continues to defy the handicapper.
Willie Austin’s game sort was a surprise market drifter – 3/1 to 9/2 – but it was his rivals who were drifting as he scooted home for David Mullins.
Jessica Harrington’s Polished Steel out his experience to good use when taking the maiden hurdle at 3/1, while Gordon Elliott – with his Wednesday Ayr runners safely in isolation in a farm 15 miles from his yard – took the feature event, the Horse & Jockey Rated Novice Hurdle with 11/2 chance Moratorium who pipped the Joseph O’Brien trained 6/4 jolly Petit Tartare by a neck.
A rare disappointment for Joseph these days, but Sempo put things right with his comprehensive victory in the concluding bumper.
Declan’s Irish Racing Service was on the ball at Thurles with Polished Steel 3/1 and Sempo 5/2 (won 11/8) giving a 14 points profit on the day.