Billy Lee hits the front in Jockeys Championship

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Billy Lee, who rode Earl of Tyrone to victory in the Sky Bet 14 furlong handicap in the Curragh last Wednesday with (from left) Paddy Twomey, Anna Barlow, Claire Carroll and Robert Moran.

Billy Lee rode his first winner of what might turn out to be a hugely significant week for the jockey when combining with County Kilkenny trainer Eoin Doyle to land the 12-furlong handicap on the five-year-old Secret Sea at Tipperary on Tuesday.

The 11/1 chance had a little in hand as she beat the Edward O’Grady-trained Nusra by half a length in the colours of the Suir Syndicate.

At half those odds, Charles Byrnes won the three-mile one-furlong handicap hurdle at Ballinrobe on the same evening with Metersandmasks. In the colours of owners Pauline Twiss and John Twiss, the six-year-old came from off the pace under Phillip Enright and got up on the line to deny the Shark Hanlon-trained 9/4 favourite Hewick by a head.

Billy Lee was a winner again at the Curragh on Wednesday where he teamed up with reliable ally Paddy Twomey to take the 14-furlong handicap with Earl Of Tyrone. The 11/8 chance led turning for home and had an easy four lengths to spare over the Donnacha O’Brien-trained Moon Daisy at the line in the colours of his owner/breeder Robert Moran.

Another winning favourite on the day was Aratori which landed the three-year-old handicap over the extended six furlongs under Chris Hayes. Trained by Eddie and Patrick Harty, the 5/2 chance led at halfway and scored by a cosy two lengths from the Dick Brabazon-trained Grigal.

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The Grey Lad, ridden by Gary Noonan, kept up trainer Paul Flynn’s enviable strike-rate when easily winning the two and a half-mile handicap hurdle at Down Royal on Friday. Owned by Claire Kilmartin, the six-year-old led before the second last hurdle and was clear over the last as he won by five and a half-lengths from the John Ryan-trained Wild Caprice at odds of 9/4 favourite.

The remarkable run of form for Billy Lee saw him hit the front in the jockeys’ championship as he rode three winners at Listowel over the weekend. He landed a double at the track on Saturday, riding back-to-back winners for Curragh trainers Willie McCreery and Ken Condon. He made all the running on the Michael Fahy-owned Amirat Alward to win the six-furlong handicap, the 11/1 chance getting the better of the Seamus O’Donnell-trained Theriverrunsdeep by a length and three-parts 35 minutes before Warren Beach took the seven-furlong rated race at odds of 6/5 favourite.

Another all-the-way winner, Condon’s charge beat the Joseph O’Brien-trained Perfect Thunder by a length and a half in the Roving Swan Syndicate colours.

Lee beat Colin Keane to the post in the eight-furlong maiden at the track on Sunday to open up a two-winner lead in the jockeys’ championship. He ended the week on a tally of 33 wins to Keane’s 31 when partnering the Andrew Kinirons-trained 6/4 favourite Elmos Fire to an easy success, leading early in the straight on the Thomas Koehler-owned three-year-old beat the John Murphy-trained Hotrocket by three and a half lengths.

Miss Cunning won the handicap over the same distance for Newmarket-On-Fergus trainer Aengus King and Jake Coen. The 9/1 chance, in the trainer’s own colours, came from off the pace after a tardy start to beat 25/1 chance Coviglia by a length and three-parts.

Mark McDonagh gave County Cork trainer Sean O’Brien his second winner in two days as The Gradual Slope ran away with the opportunity maiden hurdle at Kilbeggan on Sunday. A strong 7/4 favourite, the five-year-old led after the fourth last hurdle and came home an 11-length winner from 9/4 chance Scenic Look. O’Brien was successful with Kingston Retreat at Tramore on the previous afternoon.

McDonagh and O’Brien had to settle for second place in the novice hurdle 35 minutes later as 9/2 shot Rockanrye lost out to 33/1 chance He Fitz In, trained in Askeaton by Davy Fitzgerald. Owned by Cathal McDaid, the winner looked to have plenty to do jumping the final flight but he rallied well under Danny Mullins to score by half a length.

But McDonagh was back in the winners’ enclosure as Mullingar trainer Ciaran Murphy scored a local success when Jack Hackett justified his favourite’s tag in the two and a half-mile handicap chase. Owned and bred by Sean Reilly, the 3/1 chance was clear before the final fence as he beat the Oliver McKiernan-trained Grangeclare Native by five and a half lengths.

Upcoming Fixtures

Wexford – Wednesday, June 8 (First Race 2pm)

Cork – Wednesday, June 8 (First Race 5.05pm)

Leopardstown – Thursday, June 9 (First Race 5.15pm)

Clonmel – Friday, June 10 (First Race 5pm)

Fairyhouse – Friday, June 10 (First Race 4.45pm)

Limerick – Saturday, June 11 (First Race 2.05pm)

Downpatrick – Saturday, June 11 (First Race 1.45pm)

Downpatrick – Sunday, June 12 (First Race 1.45pm)

Gowran Park – Sunday, June 12 (First Race 1.55pm)

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