Irish eyes were smiling at Lingfield yesterday as Donegal-based trainer Emmet Butterly sent out Brabazon to land a gamble on the all-weather circuit.
Brabazon — appearing for the first time in 892 days — was making his debut for Ireland's youngest trainer, Butterly, and was ridden by a 16-year-old having his first ride under Rules.
Despite this, the seven-year-old was backed at 25/1 earlier in the day before being sent off 11/4 favourite for the amateurs' handicap, and proceeded to land the gamble in the snow by no fewer than 10 lengths.
A native of Meath, Butterly is based in Letterkenny and the 22-year-old rookie sent out his first winner in August when Cybersnow won at Downpatrick.
Formerly an apprentice based with Michael Halford, Butterly was a very promising jockey and was crowned ‘Rookie of the Year' in his first season before encountering problems with his weight. He subsequently swapped codes and became a conditional rider for Noel Meade before hanging up his boots shortly after partnering Darceys Dancer in a Leopardstown maiden hurdle in March 2009.
As for Brabazon's jockey, Freddie Mitchell only came in for the mount because the booked rider was held up by the weather, but has already had success on the pony racing circuit.
“It's a lot different,” he said of the new experience. “It's quieter, no-one screams and swears!”
Mitchell is certainly bred for the job. The teenager's father, Philip, won three big races in the United States with Running Stag but yesterday became a day to compare with his proudest as a trainer when another son, Jack, went on to win a sprint handicap by a short head on South African Gold — as luck should have it, another spare ride.
The outlandish possibility meanwhile remains that Noel Fehily will be ready to resume riding as soon as the freeze relents — conceivably, that is, in time for the meeting at Cheltenham next week, and certainly long before his momentous appointment with Kauto Star at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The wrist injury Fehily sustained at Newbury last Friday has now been formally diagnosed as a dislocation, rather than a fracture.
“I saw the specialist last night, and he was over the moon with the wrist,” Fehily said.
“It's a massive relief, as it looked very bleak after the fall, and I could be back riding in the next 10 days.”
The suspension of jumping will extend to a fifth day tomorrow should Wincanton fail to pass an inspection this morning.
With no sign of a thaw, an additional all-weather fixture has been scheduled for Kempton on Saturday.
Today’s action at Navan, Ayr, Catterick and Plumpton is off.