The opening Walsh Whiskey Distillery four-year-old mares ‘maiden race divided which saw the first division going to the Colin Bowe and Barry O’Neill duo. This was to be the first of a treble on the day for the reigning champion O’Neill as he steered Western Victory to a debut success.
Owned by S O’Neill, the daughter of Westerner made all before quickening clear in the straight to win by 10 lengths over Carrolls Milan. Bought for €36,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby sale last year by her handler who commented after the race; “She ran keenly the first day when she was third at Monksgrange and Barry said that the soft ground helped her and that she relaxed more in front. Sean (O’Neill, owner) had Shantou Flyer with me so I am delighted to get this winner for him. We will probably go for a mares’ bumper with her now.”
The Colin Bowe and Barry O’Neill team secured their second winner of the day when Travelyn’s Corn scored on his debut. Bought for €45,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby sale last year, the son of Oscar took up the lead from the penultimate fence where he quickly gained a strong advantage and won by a comfortable seven lengths over On Call.
Carrying the familiar Milestone Racing Partnership colours, his handler stated after the race; “He is a lovely big easy-going horse. He is very big so we said that we would put him away in the spring and that plan has paid off today. I’m delighted with that run. He will go straight to the sales now”.
Tom Keating registered his second success this month in four-year-old maiden’s when Reikers Island took the opening division of the geldings’ maiden.
The son of Yeats, who was having his fourth career start following two previous placed runs, was prominent throughout under Liam Quinlan and progressed to lead entering the straight where he won by three lengths over Seven De Baune.
“He wasn’t fit when he ran at Boulta last month. I slightly misjudged it with him and Liam (Quinlan) said that he blew up twice on him. He does take a bit of work to get fit. We’ll see how he pulls out in the morning, but he could go to the sales now”, commented Keating who also owns the gelding.
The Wexford raiders enjoyed success in the second division of the four-year-old mares ‘maiden when the Donnchadh Doyle-trained Malachy’s Girl gained her due reward following some placed efforts last spring and this autumn.
Ridden by Rob James for owner John Fitzhenry, the daughter of Darsi progressed to lead from the third last where she held onto a one length victory over Fiveaftermidnight.
“She is a very consistent horse who had just bumped into some very nice types like Queens Cave the last day in Dromahane. It is nice to get the win with her for her owner John Fitzhenry who has had a couple of horses with myself and Sean over the years. She is for sale”, reported Doyle.
The successful partnership of Rob James and Donnchadh Doyle also enjoyed a double on the day when Kilcullen Bellamy took the Shantou & Sea Moon at Burgage Stud five-year-old mares’ maiden.
Overcoming a 567 day absence, the daughter of Black Sam Bellamy avoided the drama which saw seven of the nine runners failing to finish. Taking over the lead from the final fence, Kilcullen Bellamy battled well in the closing stages to see off the challenge of Illtellmema by one and a half lengths.
Doyle commented after the race; “She got hurt after her first run but she we thought she was a good mare at the time. She is not that long back in, so she would have needed the run so that’s why Rob (James) just dropped her in. She saw it out well there and we will go for a winners’ race now”.
Rob James continued his winning role in the following race, the John Joseph Hanlon - Horse Trainer five-year-old geldings’ maiden when Roundstone scored on his debut. The well-bred son of Flemensfirth who is a full-brother to O O Seven was bought by Margaret O’Toole at the Goffs Land Rover sale for €100,000 and carried the colours of Christopher Jones.
Taking up the lead from the eight fence, the Gearóid O'Loughlin-trained gelding soon gained a strong advantage and won by an impressive 18 lengths over Commanding Spirit.
“He is an out-an-out stayer and a brilliant jumper. He got a bad cut last year which delayed him. I am delighted that Chris (Jones) is a supporter of the point-to-point game, as I really think that they give young horses a great education and so many of the top track performers have come from Irish point-to-points. He will now go into training with Gordon Elliott”, commented his handler O’Loughlin.
Barry O’Neill’s concluding part of his treble came in the Walshs Homevalue Hardware six-year-old-and-upwards maiden aboard the Peter Maher-trained Alpha Male who was running in the colours of Valerie J. Maher.
Having been placed on four consecutive starts for Nicky Henderson, the six-year-old was making his point-to-point debut for the Kildare-based handler and was disputing the lead with Lady Mangan when the later excited at the final fence allowing for the winner to enjoy a 10 length success over Windy Bottom.
Maher reported after the race: “He did it nicely there. He will run in winners’ company now to get more experience and the plan would be to target the Bishopscourt Cup at Punchestown in April”.
17-year-old Timmy Love registered his third career success when he steered Rue Hill to victory in the Goffs Property Open for Novice Riders. Bred, owned and trained by Wexford-based Denis Hickey, the son of Craigsteel was making his point-to-point debut following some successful runs which includes a win in a handicap hurdle at Limerick in December 2014.
The 14-runner field saw some talented ex-track horses in the line-up and the ten-year-old led from the fifth last where he battled gamely in the closing stages to see off the former Foxhunter Champion On The Fringe by five lengths.