Irv Naylor’s French Light ran an impressive race in his Irish debut today, finishing second at 12-1 in the Munster Rated Novice Hurdle at Clonmel Racecourse in County Tipperary.
Making his initial start for new trainer Keri Brion, regular rider Gerard Galligan was content to relax and sit at the rear of the field of 10 for much of the 2 ⅜ mile race, contested over very soggy going. With about a half mile to go, Gerard swung five wide and picked off the horses one by one, and was among the leaders going over the second last. The winner, Broomfields Jeremy, sent off at 7-2 under Robbie Power, accelerated heading toward the last proved much the best, drawing off by around 13 lengths. But French Light dug in gamely to hold the place spot.
After the race we spoke with Keri, who was elated by her horse’s performance and thanked Irv and Diane Naylor for their faith in her. “We are so thrilled with him,” she said. “It was heavy and tacky ground and very hard to get through. It wouldn’t be what he wants at all. It also was a little farther than his ideal distance so he had the odds stacked against him and it was such a gutsy effort.
“This is all a dream come true,” Keri said, noting that French Light appears to have come out of the race in great shape, and could make his next start in a grade 1 novice stake at Leopardstown on Feb. 6.
Owners Irv and Diane Naylor cheered on French Light from home. “Irv and I watched the race and were very pleased,” said Diane. “They had lots of rain the night before, and was even deeper than the typical Irish deep going. Supposedly, very sticky. He jumped really well, and was obviously in great shape. The winning horse, we were told, carried 10 lbs less than French Light. And we carried more than most of the horses. We are looking forward to the next race, hopefully with even weights.”
Click on the link to watch a replay of the race: https://www.racingtv.com/videos/watch/horse_racing_replays/311424-munster-rated-novice-hurdle