Champion jockey Barry O’Neill got his title defence off to the best possible start, with a Casltetown-Geoghegan treble supplementing his opening winner at Toomebridge 24 hours earlier.
O’Neill’s first winner in Co. Westmeath came courtesy of Pennyforapound in the familiar colours of the Milestone Racing Partnership. The Colin Bowe-trained individual took up the running two fences from home and kept on strongly under a strong drive to score by four lengths. Wexford handler Colin Bowe remarked afterwards; “They went an awful gallop early on which probably played to his strengths. He is a straight forward individual, everything comes very easy to him. He is a clever sort who has a very bright future ahead of him.”
Colin Bowe and Barry O’Neill retuned to the winners enclosure when Lively Beat took the Mullingar Agri Store five and six-year-old mares’ maiden by an impressive eight lengths. The daughter of Beat Hollow had previously shown decent form when finished third behind Leverock Lass at Bartlemy in May and backed that up when carrying the colours of Kilkenny native Peter Brophy to victory. “She has improved well over the summer and has lived up to the promise she had shown us last season. She is owned by Peter Brophy whose family have been big supporters of mine over the years. I actually used to train her dam Lively Lass who won two races for us,” said the winning handler.
The Paul Nolan-trained Shawshank supplied Barry O’Neill with his third winner of the afternoon when landing the My Dream Boat five and six-year-old geldings’ maiden. The Colm Browne-owned gelding was last least seen when running at Punchestown last February and the son of Presenting picked-up well on the ground to score by a length and a-half over Gaye Breeze. Conor Walsh who was representing the Paul Nolan stable said afterwards; “He is a fine big horse who enjoyed today’s going. He won fairly easy in the end. He is owned by Colm Browne from Waterford who is a big supporter of the Nolan Yard.”
It was a day of celebration for young Meath handler Peter Flood as he recorded his first career treble. The locally owned Star Wizard gave Flood his first winner of the afternoon when coming home in front of the Winners of Two in a thrilling finish with Lisnagreggan. The seven-year-old found plenty on the run-in to prevail by a neck. The Hugh Mulivhill-owned individual received a warm welcome back to the winners enclosure and proved to be one of the most popular winners of the day, as Mulvihill was also acting as clerk of the scales. Winning handler Peter Flood said afterwards; “I am delighted for Hugh, he has been a good supporter of mine and is great owner to have in the yard. We thought this lad would go close today and would take all the beating. He really enjoys the quicker ground and he stayed at it well. He will step up to open company next in a Ladies or novice riders race.’
Flood’s stable stalwart Ourmanmassini was back to his best when putting in a fine performance to land the novice riders open in the hands of Paul Bannon. The ten-year-old really enjoyed the quick ground and kept on well down the hill to score by a convincing four lengths. The Teresa Flood-owned gelding, a former champion pointer, was returning from a stint under rules during the summer. “It was great to see him back winning. He has been running well over the summer without winning and we decided to bring him back point-to-pointing as he was going up in the handicap without a win”, reported a delighted Flood. “Today’s conditions were ideal for him and while the ground stays right we will keep running him, so I’d imagine he will be out again soon.”
Anthony Fox recorded his second winner of the afternoon aboard Flood’s Major Davis, a £3,500 purchase out of the Tattersalls Ascot sales ring in July. The French bred took to his fences well and kept on well in the straight to deny the Harry Kelly-trained Kiera Royale. An elated Flood stated afterwards; “That was my first treble as a handler. I knew coming here today we had three live chances so it was great to see all three win. I thought this lad was my best chance of a winner, I didn’t think he could be beaten. We only bought him at Ascot in July for small money and he will go for a winners race next, but he is also qualified for the farmers race at Punchestown so that could also be an option for him.”