North Down (F) at Kirkistown on Saturday 10th March 2018.
Conditions were very tough at Kirkistown on Saturday where Mark O'Hare enjoyed a double on the day. The odds-on favourite Tin Town Liz registered her second successive win at the Co. Down venue for handler Jerry Cosgrave in the winners of one, returning six lengths in advance of Commanding Spirit. The first two home had recorded their respective maiden wins at the same venue last month, where the Scorpion mare incidentally provided her jockey with one half of a double on that day also. Fourth in a hurdle at Fairyhouse in December of 2016, the winner made all throughout and overcame a number of jumping mistakes, including an error at the last, to run out a comfortable winner in the end for the Oliver family syndicate. "She is a very talented mare with plenty of ability and done it well again”, reporter Cosgrave. “She made a few mistakes but it was probably because she was doing it all out on her own. This is only her second run over fences and she will improve again. She will head to the sales now."
The opening leg of O'Hare's double came in the Alan Dunlop Agricultural Machinery open aboard the Warren Ewing-trained Ground Invasion. A third run back following a lengthy absence, the former dual bumper winner improved upon on a fourth place finish last time out to lead home former Grade One winner Felix Yonger by six-lengths. The lightly raced nine-year-old asserted before the last and kept on best in the run in to score in the colours of his handler Ewing, who commented; “he was off for two years there and has come back well and improved with each race. He has loads of ability and has shown that in the past. He could go for the hunter chase at Aintree”.
The Colin Bowe-trained newcomer, Long after Dark, recorded the quickest time of the day when taking the Dennison Commercials Ltd four-year-old maiden in the hands of Barry O'Neill. The imposing gelding, who raced prominently throughout, was asked to quicken approaching the last and went about his job well to finish four-lengths clear of Peter Flood’s Grange Castle Lad. There was a lot of like about the manner in which the Milestones Racing’s well-bred son of Flemensfirth handled the testing conditions and the promising recruit is out of an unraced half-sister to multiple graded winners including dual Hennessy Gold Cup winner Carlingford Lough, Thisthatandtother and The Tother One. Winning handler Colin Bowe was understandably delighted with the success: “I was worried today thinking the track might be a bit tight for him but Barry (O’Neill) said that he jumped and cornered well for such a big horse. He is absolutely massive and to do this as a four-year-old he is something special. He has loads of ability and will head to the sales now”.
The Albert Bartlett five-year-old geldings’ maiden went the way of I'm Here for the absent handler George Stewart. The newcomer travelled well for the returning Mark Lynch and following a good jump at the second last, he ran out a five-length winner over the more experienced Skyhill. The Hurricane Run gelding is the first runner and winner out of the Arctic Lord-mare Is It Here, who is a half-sister to Dashing George, a horse that finished second in the Munster National for Eric McNamara. Leo Gracey, representing Stewart, reported; “He’s a nice big horse and will improve again with some time. He was schooling and galloping well at home, and that showed today. He really seemed to enjoy it and finished the race out well. He will head to the sales now”.
The front running Oldtown Polly improved upon her third place finish last time out at Armagh a fortnight ago to secure the Tattersalls Ireland five-year-old mares’ maiden. With the top two in the market departing in the early stages, when the warm favourite Presenting Rio fell and brought down Drumconnor Girl at the fifth, the race opened notably for the other runners and it was the homebred six-year-old that took full advantage. Asserting from before the final fence, she proved six-lengths too good for Far Away Rock. Trained in Co. Armagh by owner and one horse handler, Jim Gault, the daughter of Publisher provided the handlers nephew, Neil with his initial winner of the season. “She is lightly raced and she only had her first run in the Autumn. She has improved with every run finishing third last time at Armagh. She could head to the sales now", reported Gault.
Book Of Love got off the mark in the concluding race of the day for Jim Dreaper’s yard in the colours of Leon Tormey. Jamie Codd produced the nine-year-old son of Katub after the final fence to collar Captain Cook on the line in the slowly run Morrow Tyres six-year-old and upwards geldings maiden. The slow pace of the race meant most had a chance approaching the second-last, however the eventual winner showed the best turn of foot at the back of the last to get the verdict by a head. Placed in a bumper at Navan in 2015, Book Of Love will now go for a winners race according to the winning handler’s son Tom, who also commented; “He’s a great horse to have at home as he leads the younger horses. Jamie gave him a great ride and timed his run well to get up on the line. "