Barry O’Neill put himself in pole position to seal a first ever northern title with a third successive victory aboard David Christie’s Vinnie Luck. The Combilift open was worthy of its billing as the day’s feature race with all four runners coming into the race off the back of a win. The eventual winner Vinnie Luck took up the running rounding the home bend and was soon in command to win cosily over Bridgets Pet by three lengths. The winning locally-based handler was understandably delighted with the success. “He has been an improving horse and the better ground suited him. Barry said he settled well and jumped great. We will keep going in opens and possibly take in the Listowel hunter chase."
Christie would have had high hopes of a double at his local fixture when sending out Corella Creek in the Richard Trimble Adjacent race, however the short-priced had to settle for the runners-up spot behind Celtic Thunder. Setting much of the pace in the hands of Daire McConville, the Armagh winner was joined at the head of affairs by the warm favourite at the second last, as he pair went clear of the field. However it was the Definite Article gelding who pulled out more to win by three lengths on the line. “He hasn’t run up to the level that saw him win at Armagh and we freshened him up after his last run,” disclosed winning handler Marshall Watson of the nine year-old who is now a four-time winner between the flags. "Daire gave him a great ride and he just kept finding more. He could head to the sales or if not sold will go for a hunter chase."
Just two horses lined up for what turned out to be an eventful Wright Concrete six-year-old geldings’ maiden. The locally trained Hatari refused the second fence leaving newcomer Leo's Destination clear, before Barry O'Neill’s mount obliged to jump the fence at the second time of asking and went about making up the lost ground. The advantage was recuperated before three-out and the pair where upsides at the final fence when Hatari crashed out leaving Heather Scott’s Leo’s Destination to come home alone under Lar O' Carroll for Dermot Mcloughlin “It’s a credit to Dermot (McLoughlin) to have this horse where he is. Lar did a great job and kept calm when being left alone. He had to work at the end but was always doing enough. We will see how he is before we decide what to do next,” disclosed the delighted owner.
Three Dudes Syndicate silks were carried to victory by Sliabh Mhuire Lass in the I.T.B.A mares’ winner of three for the brothers Paurick and Derek O’Connor. The daughter of Grandera looked the winner from some way out and kept on well at the back of the last to win by four-lengths over Alice's Star, to record her third win of the campaign. “I was a little worried about the ground but she handled it fine. She won well there again and could head to the mares open in Ballingarry on the bank holiday weekend," disclosed the elder O'Connor of Sliabh Mhuire Lass, who was owned by Michael Brennan from Roscommon who sadly passed away before Christmas. O'Connor added; “This is a great success for the Brennan family and hopefully she can collect again for the family”.
Returning from a lengthy absence, the Mark O'Hare-partnered Hillary John scored first time out for new connections in the Killyhevlin Hotel seven-year-old-and-upwards geldings’ maiden. Showing no ill-effects on his first run since January of last year, the Gamut gelding returned to action with an emphatic 10-length victory over The Secret Mason. “Paul (Burns) bought him privately from Eddie Ahern and I have him since March. We thought we will start him off in a point to point and he done the job. We will probably head to the track with him now," commented handler Brian Hamilton of the Paul Burns-owned seven-year-old who is out a half-sister to the Grade two winner Sweeney Tunes.
Ballysteen-second Howling Milan went one better here to score in the Dennison Commericals Ltd four-year-old geldings’ maiden to carry the colours of Jason Higgins to victory. Racing prominently throughout, Howling Milan was sent for home by Harley Dunne before the last and the son of Milan quickly put the race to bed getting to the line six-lengths ahead of Our Bubba. “He ran a good race in Ballysteen and then went to the sales but didn’t get sold. We know he has plenty of ability and he did it well today. Harley judged the pace well and did everything right," divulged Doyle. "He is a lovely horse who jumps and stays well but also showed he can go the quicker pace too. He could turn into a decent staying chaser in time. He will head to the sales."