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Second time lucky for Big Girl Betty

Image © Healy Racing

Having finished second in the 2023 edition of the Dennison JCB Maiden Hunter Chase, Big Girl Betty went one place better for John Barry and Mark McNiff.
Racing towards the rear of the field for much of the contest as Barry O’Neill controlled the gallop for the first lap aboard Nevermindestranger, Johnny Barry had his mount posted wide from where the pair were able to take closer order from five-out.
Jumping through into second at the third-last, it was Gordon Elliott’s Wine An Dine who led the field into the final three furlongs, but the writing was soon on the wall for that rival as Mark McNiff’s charge struck the front at the penultimate fence.
Although far from fluent at the last, she had enough of an advantage built up that she was able to return three and three quarter lengths clear of Grageen, with a further six lengths back to Wine An Dine in third.
Having been sent off as the favourite, Sheephaven Flyer unseated John Gleeson three-out, having been hampered by the fall of Hardy Buck.
“It’s a lucky track for us here but we would run a lot of horses so wherever you run a lot of horses you are more likely to have winners at them,” McNiff said.
“She was only bred a couple of miles over the hill, it is good that she won.
“She was to run in the autumn, but it went from being very dry ground to very heavy overnight. She went to Cork just after Christmas, and she was in the parade ring and the meeting was abandoned with win.
“She won in Tyrella, making heavy weather of it when you thought that she would have won well and then she was to come here and it ended up being cancelled, and it was heavy in Cork at Easter. She ran well in Down Royal two and a half weeks ago, the winner was good that day.”
Winning rider John Barry added: “She just idled a bit when she hit the front, I just wanted to keep the revs up. She travelled and jumped fantastically, and I was probably in front a bit too early. 
“I just wanted to keep her forward going to the last, because sometimes if you take them back to pop you lose the momentum up the hill – she was cleverer than I was.
“She was second in the race last year so it was great to go one better this year.”

A mare also claimed the point-to-point bumper, with Barry Walsh's own homebred Pepperpots, opening her account at 100/1 under the winning trainer.

The six-year-old had been beaten 29 lengths in a mares-only point-to-point bumper at Tipperary earlier in the month, but under front-running tactics she was an altogether different prospect to complete a good couple of weeks for the Walsh family following their Punchestown Festival victory with Singing Banjo.



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