It was a day to remember for the Phelan family of Fethard, Co. Tipperary, as 19-year-old Andrew recorded his first career success aboard his fathers' Batchelors Walk in the Glanbia, Ballacolla six-year-old and upwards geldings maiden for novice riders at Stradbally on Sunday. The son of Yeats has improved upon each of his six runs between the flags, and he proved two-and-a-half lengths too good for the favourite and recent Lisronagh runner-up Ozean. “We just have the horse for my son, Andrew to ride. He is the only horse that we have and he is after doing his job. He was kept especially for him as he is a good safe ride and its great experience for him to get so we will keep pointing with him,” disclosed the delighted handler Eamonn Phelan, father of the winning rider.
A Decent Excuse followed up his win at Stowlin just one week ago to land the feature race, the Ashbourne Meats & ITM Ladies open, to record his fifth success of the season, leaving him three winners adrift of Sydney Paget in the champion point-to-pointer category. The Eugene O'Sullivan-trained 11-year-old could be called the winner from some way out and travelled very strongly on the approach to the straight under Maxine O'Sullivan. Sporting the colours of the Kilshannig Racing Syndicates, A Decent Excuse was asked for his effort after the last and returned two lengths in advance of Aces And Kings. The winning rider was understandably delighted to see her father’s charge back to his best; “He loves the good ground, really loves it and he is back to his best. He loves running. He would go every Sunday as he does nothing all week. He will probably go again in two weeks’ time.”
Newcomer Carlow Farmer, trained by Sean Doyle, was a very popular local winner for Edward Kearney in the Alison Dowling Memorial adjacent maiden under Jamie Scallan. The son of Stowaway, who showed some early greenness, looked to have some work to do as the field raced into the home straight, however he powered home to collar the more experienced Bunninadden by a length. “He is owned by Edward Kearney who is from just down the road and he also bred him. He really wanted to win this local race if he could, so it is great that he has done it. He was very green today as he has not been in that long, but Jamie (Scallan) was saying that the further he went the better he got. I would say he might be sold now,” reported Doyle.
The opening Tattersalls Ireland five-year-old geldings’ maiden was run at a ferocious pace which saw just three of the thirteen runners finishing, including a dramatic final fence which saw the Aidan Fitzgerald-trained Shetland Bus left with the lead when the long-time leader Steelers Appeal crashed out whilst holding the advantage. The winning son of Sholokhov returned ten-lengths ahead of eventual second Robin Du Roi. Third at Borris House in December, Shetland Bus justified favouritism here in the colours of his handler and recent Grade 1 winning jockey Richie Deegan. “Richie said he was going to win. In fairness they went very quick and Richie sat in and took a lead and was coming with his challenge at the time," reported Fitzgerald. "Richie got off him after his run at Borris and said that we weren’t to run him on heavy ground anymore so we left him off on purpose for this nicer ground."
The Liam Kenny-trained Our Henrietta, previously successful this season at Knockanard in February, bounced back from a below par effort on her two most recent runs to come home eight-lengths clear of Simply Gooch in The Heffernan Family winners of two. Ridden prominently throughout, the winning daughter of Winged Love looked to appreciate the improved underfoot conditions to provide her handler's son James with a fourth success of the campaign. “She did that very well. We were running her in the muck all year long, but she is a completely different mare on this ground. We will have to go to the track now during the summer after that. I would say she will start off in a bumper and then we will take it from there,” divulged Kenny of his charge, who runs in the colours of Joe Whelan.
The McLoughlins Supervalu older mares’ maiden provided the closest finish of the day where the strong finishing Tourgar Pure Gold was just denied by the Shark Hanlon-trained Windy Bottom. The seven-year-old daughter of Milan jumped her way to the head of affairs at the third last, before being sent for home by Niall Prendergast to prevail on the line in the colours of Susan Archdeacon. Windy Bottom had shown promise earlier in the season when finishing second to recent Punchestown Festival winner Alpha Male at Borris House in December and was another to appreciate the better ground on the day. “I had her in the confined too but I said I would leave that race to my other horse who I thought would have won and was very unlucky. She flies on good ground and I think she will win a bumper," commented Shark Hanlon. "She is already entered in the sales at Doncaster.”