Byrnes and Russell record remarkable treble

Trainer Charles Byrnes

Charles Byrnes and Davy Russell teamed up for a remarkable treble on an otherwise humdrum National Hunt card at Roscommon on Tuesday evening.

Followers of the form book would have been left scratching their heads when War Anthem, Mr Smith and Top Of The Crown all had their early prices slashed this morning, but for the presence of Byrnes’ name next to the three punted horses.

History has shown that recent form has counted for little when the trainer’s charges have been heavily backed.

War Anthem, who had been hammered by almost 140 lengths in his two hurdle starts to date, was a general 16-1 shot for the Paul Byron Shoes Maiden Hurdle over two miles when the race was initially priced up.

However, that price had already collapsed before most firms had opened their shops this morning.

Sent off 6-1, the six-year-old had just over three lengths to spare as he recorded a comfortable victory over 40-1 outsider William B.

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Mr Smith, who formed the second leg of the treble just half an hour later, also carried the silks of the Byrnsey Boys Syndicate to victory.

Despite failing to place in 16 combined lifetime starts on the Flat and over hurdles, his early price also contracted dramatically over the course of the morning.

Available at 12-1 for the JF Hanley Handicap Hurdle over two miles four furlongs with a number of firms earlier in the day, the son of Galileo returned the 7-4 favourite as he finished four-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of Tb Broke Her.

Top Of The Town could have been regarded as the ‘obvious’ contender in Byrnes unlikely triumvirate as he had actually won a race just over a year ago at Downpatrick.

The eight-year-old’s latent ability might not have been particularly apparent to those who witnessed his only two runs this year in Limerick and Tipperary, but general quotes of 14-1 evaporated and when he scooted five lengths clear of Russian Roulette in the Class Grass Handicap Hurdle as the 5-4 favourite, the seemingly improbable treble had been landed.

Byrnes was called before the stewards to explain the improvement of War Anthem and Mr Smith, where officials expressed their satisfaction with the explanations he furnished to the degree that they opted to take no further action.

The controversial gamble was lauded by some and decried by others on social media, but will serve as a cautionary tale for many as to the perils of betting on low-grade, uncompetitive racing, and also shines a light on why bookmakers are reticent to take large wagers on Irish racing at early prices.

For Byrnes, there was a degree of relief, as he insisted he had accrued significant losses at last week’s Galway Races when a number of gambles went awry.

“After Galway we needed it,” he told reporters.

“I did my brains in at Galway with Sea Light and Crystal Pearl.”

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