By Ray O’Hanlon and John Manley
Irish horse racing reached new heights of success on Easter Monday when the father and son team of Ted and Ruby Walsh romped home with the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, Co. Meath.
With Ruby in the saddle, the Dermot Desmond-owned Comanche Court beat out the rest of the field, thus sealing a unique double. Ted Walsh trained the recent Aintree Grand National winner Papillon and Ted guided the horse around the mountainous Aintree course. The same double act triumphed Monday. This is the first time ever that the same trainer has won both grand nationals in the same year.
Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, Sunshine Street was one of those horses who figured to be prominent in big races but was not quite good enough to lead the field under the wire. The use of the past tense is appropriate, as the five-year-old’s transfer to Neil Drysdale’s barn in California has wrought a new attitude, which resulted in a solid two-length victory in Saturday’s San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita. The mile and three-quarters tilt on the grass is the longest graded race in North America.
Sunshine Street, owned by Dublin computer magnate Patrick Garvey, was last in the closely bunched five-horse field throughout the initial 10 furlongs. Jerry Bailey moved him into contention on the outside entering the far turn and the duo gained the advantage by the time they straightened for home. The two lengths between them and favored Single Empire stood to the wire. They ran the 14 furlongs in 2:49.06.
Sunshine Street paid $6.20 as the second choice. The winner’s purse in the Grade I "Capistrano" amounted to $240,000. Prior to this year, Noel Meade campaigned the son of Sunshine Forever. He showed well in losing efforts in both the Epsom Derby and Breeders’ Cup Turf in 1998.
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