Jockey David Casey gets his fairytale finish
Jockey calls time on career by partnering Long Dog to win as Morris and Fox take the feature
Listowel's seven-day meeting may have been curtailed by the weather on Monday and Tuesday but there was to be no disruption to their showcase Kerry National day which saw jockey David Casey end his career as a jockey on a winning note.
The popular Waterford-native announced last weekend that he would retire this week ahead of beginning his new role in assisting champion trainer Willie Mullins and it was Mullins who sent him off on a winner when Long Dog duly obliged in the novice hurdle.
Casey enjoyed success at the highest level winning 15 Grade One races for a range of different trainers and making his mark on the Cheltenham Festival on numerous occasions.
The 39-year-old admitted: "I didn't think I would get that sort of send off and I'm just thankful to Rich and Susanah Ricci, Willie and Ruby for letting me ride Long Dog. It was a kind gesture, they didn't have to do it and, thankfully, I didn't let them down."
Casey was due to ride last year's Kerry National runner-up Pass The Hat for old ally Arthur Moore, but the heavy ground meant that he didn't run and instead Casey rode Alechi Inois, who just didn't appear to handle the conditions and was pulled up before the fourth last fence.
However, with good friend and colleague Ruby Walsh stepping aside to let Casey take the ride on Long Dog, there was to be a fairytale ending for the jockey in front of his family and friends as he signed off with a nine-and-a-half length success on the 1/6 favourite who made all the running.
"I had a good partner, he jumped and he travelled and he was obviously the best horse in the race and he won like that.
"I was doing a job that I never found as work or a job but I was getting paid for it. It was a very special send off. It's time to move on and I'm looking forward to it."
Mullins said: "David came to us when he was 17 so he knows our operation. He has seen it grow, he knows the way I think and the way everyone else in the yard thinks. He's going to be a huge help organising work in the morning, and riding work as he always is.
"Anytime in the past when I'm buying horses I usually send David to ride them. It's great to have someone of his calibre going to Australia with Max Dynamite, and the feedback that I will be able to get from him will be huge."
Mouse Morris was responsible for both the first and the third placed horses in the feature race as the Ger Fox-ridden Rogue Angel got back up to deny what looked the likely winner, Urano, by a head on the line with Rule The World back in third.
Paul Townend looked to have given the Urano the perfect ride, kicking clear after the last, but Rogue Angel battled back gamely to get back in front where it mattered and give Fox some nice compensation after he missed the win on Road To Riches in last year's Galway Plate through injury.
"He's an out-an-out stayer and he had it all his own way today. He got a great ride from Ger, and he jumped well today," said Morris afterwards.
"He's a horse I thought might win the four-miler at Cheltenham one day but it just clicked today.
"We'll see what the handicapper does with them now before coming up with a plan. Rule The World is still a novice so we'll see."