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Report | Kirkistown 9th March 2019

History was made at Kirkistown when the first four-year-old auction maiden was staged, however it was very much a case of the status quo being maintained, as despite the limitation restricting the race solely to horses bought at a store sale last summer for €25,000 or less, it was a similar story to the season’s other four-year-old maidens, with Colin Bowe responsible for the winner.

Heartbreak Kid, who had been bought by former champion point-to-point rider Derek O’Connor and English trainer Donald McCain for €6,000 at the Land Rover sale in June, was able to handle the testing conditions best of the eight-strong field, pulling clear to defeat the only other finisher, Kearney Hill, by a distance in the Dennison Commercials-sponsored race.

That victory with the Getaway gelding had initiated a double on the day for reigning northern champion Barry O’Neill, who teamed up with Racing TV pundit Kate Harrington to take the Albert Bartlett five-year-old geldings’ maiden aboard Mr Hendricks.

A €20,000 purchase out of the Derby Sale as a half-brother to Shark Hanlon’s Kilkieshan, who recently finished fourth in the Eider Chase at Newcastle, the Milan-sired bay was another to thrive in the testing underfoot conditions, as he improved upon his fourth at Kilfeacle to defeat the newcomer Big Leg Up by 15 lengths.

“He’s a gorgeous horse and is so big.  He will be an even nicer horse after another summer. He’s really filling out and has thrived after his last run for such a big horse. He is from a good pedigree and there will be loads of improvement in him,” said the winning handler.
O’Neill’s great ally in the region, David Christie, had been forced to settle for second with Road To Riches in a trip across the Irish Sea to Carlisle 48 hours earlier, however his stable received some compensation in the form of a double on the Kirkistown card, which included the straight forward success of Daenerys Stormborn in the Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham mares’ maiden.

A well-beaten fifth on her debut in this sphere at Oldtown last month, the six-year-old showed the benefit of that experience when Rob James guided her to a 12-length defeat of Stuart Crawford’s newcomer Early Days.

“She tends to be a difficult mare and pulls very hard, but Rob (James) got her settled well and dropped her out. She jumped and travelled well today. We learned the last day that she needs to go left handed and she’s only learning her game,” said Christie.

That daughter of September Storm had carried the colours of Karen Ferris and her husband Eoin Barry to victory, and Ferris had further success on the day, when she rode Horendus Hulabaloo to win the open later on the card, completing the David Christie double in the process.

Formerly placed in Graded company, the 10-year-old had been without a win since June 2015, however it was very much a case of turning the clock back six years for the Beneficial gelding, who had opened his account by winning the four-year-old maiden on the corresponding card back in 2013 when under the care of Gordon Elliott.

His four-length defeat of Sizing Titanium providing his Derrylin-based owner-handler with a seventh success of the season.

“We thought he would need the run but it was a very ordinary race.  It’s encouraging to see him coming back as we have had to be patient with him.  He will keep pointing,” said the Fermanagh handler after saddling his second winner of the day.

It was a day to remember for Shane Hassett as he sent out his first winner as a handler, when Dontgetfooledagain proved himself to be a tough sort, getting his head in front on what was his third start within four weeks in the Morrow Tyres older geldings’ maiden.

The Dundrum, Co. Tipperary native, who is a former champion conditional jockey, is only in his second season sending out runners in his role as a point-to-point handler, and he has the Shane Fitzgerald-ridden French-bred to thank for getting him off the mark, after he out-battled the now perennially placed Cosmic Flight, who was forced to settle for the runners-up spot for the third time on the bounce, following his three quarters of a length defeat here.

“Shane (Fitzgerald) gave him a great ride from the front and he battled well.  He will probably keep pointing and look for a winner race next,” said Paddy Hassett, father of the winning handler.

Only two of the five horses that set out in the winner of one contest managed to complete in the three-mile event owing to the ever-deteriorating conditions, with Decor Irlandais getting his season back on track following two successive non-completions with a ten-length defeat of Samurai Cracker.

Noel Kelly’s winning six-year-old was showing his versatility, as he had recorded his maiden success on the opening day of the season on vastly different ground conditions, getting his head in front on good ground at Toomebridge in October.

As was the case on both occasions, the Hello Sunday gelding had former northern champion Noel McParlan in the plate.

The winning handler indicated that his charge would likely either be aimed at Portrush or a hunter chase at Downpatrick.

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