Having drawn a blank at Toomebridge on the opening day of the season, Barry O’Neill and Colin Bowe quickly made their way to the top of their respective categories by dominating the action.
The day started well for the pair when they took the opening Compas Stallions (My Dreamboat) four-year-old maiden with Mr Josiey Wales.
A beaten favourite at Dawstown in May on his debut, the Milan gelding proved much more of a formidable force on his return from a summer break, when getting the better of newcomer Boothill by three lengths.
“We liked him going to Dawstown but he pulled up quickly and went lame, we think he stood on himself. But he has loads of scope and jumps well,” said Bowe.
Pennyforapound, who had struck for the Bowe and O’Neill combination in that four-year-old maiden at the corresponding 2018 fixture, made his first competitive outing since, when he preserved his unbeaten record, with victory in the winner-of-two contest.
Despite his 12-month absence, the Winged Love gelding outjumped his main market rival, Tareeshar, in the final half-mile, enabling him to account for the Oldtown winner by six lengths.
The Kiltealy handler will now also offer that two-time winner for sale in the coming weeks.
Arguably their most impressive success came in the Tattersalls Ireland five and six-year-old geldings’ maiden when they introduced the newcomer, Do Your Job, to record an eye-catching five-length debut success.
A £28,000 purchase as a three-year-old from the Doncaster sales ring, the Fame And Glory gelding began to stamp his authority on the race from the third-last fence, as he accounted for the Kirkistown third Elmdale, with the experienced Beatthebullet showing signs of improvement to complete the placings in third.
“Barry (O’Neill) said you nearly wouldn’t know that the fences are there, he has massive scope. If the first couple today had not run well, I wouldn’t have run him as a couple of them took a blow yesterday,” said Bowe.
The Wexford rider enjoyed a dream start to the defence of his second straight eastern title, when he teamed up with his other great long-standing ally David Christie in the concluding older maiden to complete a personal four-timer, when Pyrios shared the spoils with Babysean in the first dead heat verdict of the new season.
The ex-Philip Hobbs-trained Pyrios had led the field into the home straight, and once getting the better jump at the final fence, it had seemed that the six-year-old would provide well-known bookmaker Ray Nicholas with a memorable double across the weekend.
However Caroline McCaldin’s Babysean surged late under Noel McParlan to force a lengthy wait for the two sets of nervous connections, before the dead heat was called.
Gearoid O’Loughlin has one eye on the Troytown Chase at Navan after his new recruit Space Cadet prevailed in a thrilling renewal of the open lightweight for novice riders.
Chris Jones’ nine-year-old was last seen running in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February on what was his last outing for the Gordon Elliott yard.
The young Meath-based handler could not have wished for a better start to his training of the Flemensfirth gelding, as Ben Harvey brought the two-time track winner home one length clear of previous course winner Some Are Lucky.
“I just wanted to put a smile on his face and get him to win again. He might have another run before the Troytown at The Pigeons in a fortnight, but I didn’t fancy him today, as I thought he would have needed the run,” said O’Loughlin.
Cork raider For Rita made all of the running in the mares’ maiden as she produced a much-improved performance to get her head in front on her sixth competitive outing to date.
No match for Darrens Hope in the mares’ point-to-point bumper at Cork last Easter, the daughter of Doyen picked up strongly once challenged by the staying on Sani Pass, to win by a length-and-a-half in the hands of Cal Shine.
“We weren’t really expecting that, but at the same time she wouldn’t be the worst mare. She will stick to point-to-points,” said Louis Archdeacon of the six-year-old, who carried his wife Michelle’s colours to success.