'Never apologise for luck'-fortunate LK winner

Mon 26th Dec 2016, 13:40

photoVal De Ferbet (left)
©Healy Racing Photos
Val De Ferbet was the fortunate winner of an incident packed Signsplus Hurdle at Limerick today, benefitting from the penultimate flight fall of leader Runfordave when scoring for trainer Andy McNamara and jockey Sean McDermott.

The ex-Willie Mullins trained gelding appeared booked for second spot as leader Runfordave went clear approaching the second last flight. That rival then over-jumped that obstacle and fell, leavingVal De Ferbet himself clear of the pursuing pack. On the run-in,Val De Ferbet was strongly pressed by market springer (25/1 this morning in to 8/1) Alto Esqua who got to within half a length of the winner at the line.

Afterwards ex-jockey McNamara admitted “we were settling for a nice run going to the second last but we were lucky to win - although my mother says you should never apologise for being lucky!”

He added “he was a great horse to get starting off training and Dr Heffernan (owner) has a few other horses with me too so it’s great to get a win. He’s been second for us four times and it was nice for him to get a bit of luck. To be fair to him he did dig deep on the run-in and he stays three miles.

“Today was the plan and while he is in on New Year’s Eve, he has had a hard enough race there and won’t go. He’s not a brilliant jumper of fences but it is something we’ll have to reconsider again because he’ll have to step up to a higher level over hurdles after that.

American based McDermott added “I ride in American from March to November but come back to Ireland during the winter and I’m then free to take rides. I’d a great season last season when I had two Grade 1 winners and things have been very good. It’s great to come back and ride a winner and also nice to ride one for Andy.”

Today's win was also a timely one for McNamara whose wife Rhona gave birth to daughter Alex McNamara before Christmas.

By Tom Weekes

Early strike for Mullins & Walsh

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh got the Christmas Festival meeting at Leopardstown off to the best possible start when taking the opening Horse & Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle with Bunk Off Early.