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Report | Toomebridge 6th October 2018

The 2018/19 Point-to-Point season got underway with a six-race card at Toomebridge where a fine day saw a large crowd attend and while the field sizes were small, this can be mainly attributed to the good ground conditions following a dry summer.

It was certainly a day to remember for the Noel Kelly/Noel McParlan combination with the duo recording a treble on the afternoon.  Decor Irlandais got the pair off the mark in the Dennison JCB winner of one. The son of Hello Sunday may have been the only maiden in the line-up, but having only been beaten by just over two lengths in a Kilbeggan bumper in August, he had some solid track form behind him. Benefitting from a patient ride, the winner was well in control turning in and saw off long-time leader American Image by five lengths at the line. Of the winner who was carrying Shauna Kelly’s colours, the winning handler stated; “He made a mistake at the first but settled and jumped well after that.  I will speak with Noel (McParlan) and see what he thinks, but he could either go for a bumper or down the hunter chase route now”.

The pair didn’t have to wait long to bring up their double when taking the Roy Wilson Cars five-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden with Oscar Light. Carrying the same colours, the daughter of Oscar was following-up on a number of solid runs late last season when coming home with six lengths to spare over Tipperary raider The Crafty Touch. “She was weak last year and probably should have won her maiden before now,” reported Kelly. The bay mare had bookended last season by finishing third at both Largy and Portrush when sent off as an even-money favourite, and connections indicated that the winner will likely stay between the flags if not sold.

Shanmullagh’s victory in the final contest of the day brought up the treble for Kelly and McParlan. Sporting the now familiar yellow and purple colours for racegoers on the afternoon, the Royal Anthem six-year-old came home a length in front of Pegase Amour in the K & G McAtamney older geldings’ maiden. The bay gelding, who is now set to step-up into winner of one company, had finished placed in the four-year-old maiden on the corresponding card two years ago, but had not seen competitive action in 12 months after finishing tenth over hurdles at Carlisle. The delighted handler was quick to praise winning rider Noel McParlan, noting; “Noel is a savage jockey and doesn’t need any instructions as he knows what to do.  He schools the horses for me so knows them well.”

Rob James also got his season off to a good start, booting home a double on the day. The Co. Wexford rider was aboard Robin Des Sivola as the pair came home in front in the opening McBurney Transport four-year-old mares’ maiden. Trained by Donnachadh Doyle, the three-times previously raced daughter of Robin Des Champs was always to the fore in what was a first four-year-old mares’ maiden to be held at the course, with a number of swift leaps along the back straight soon putting the race to bed, as she ultimately returned six lengths in advance of Quivvy Lough. “She wasn’t right on her first two runs and then was unlucky to come down at the last at Necarne when she had every chance,” stated Doyle’s representative Andy Pierce.

It was another horse trained by the Doyle brothers that saw Rob James complete his double in the Albert Bartlett five-year-old geldings’ maiden this time teaming-up with the Cormac Doyle-trained Donnatello Mail. The similarly three-times previously raced French-bred son of Zambezi Sun made every post a winning one to see off Getaman by six lengths. The winning handler stated in the aftermath; “he was third on his first run, but he disappointed us on his next two outings.  He is back right now and I think he is nice horse. If he isn’t sold he could head for a bumper now as we think he has the speed for it.” 

Reigning champion handler Colin Bowe got his new campaign off the mark when Golden Nomad landed the Dennison Commercials four-year-old geldings’ maiden under Barry O’Neill. The son of Gold Well was scoring at the third time of asking, when seeing off Braeside by only a head in what was a thrilling finish. Of the winner who was carrying the Milestone Racing Partnership colours Bowe commented; “I probably shouldn’t have run him the last day.  He made a slight mistake at the second-last fence today giving a chance to the (Wilson) Dennison horse, but he really battled well at the finish.  He is a lovely horse and showed he is tough too.  He will head to the sales next”.

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