A first track success for handler Peter Flood headlined the traditional point-to-point and hunter chase card at Cork Racecourse on Easter Monday.
The Kilcock native who previously rode between the flags for a number of years has saddled a total of 36 winners in the pointing fields, however having been one of the handlers who has availed of the option to take out a Hunter Chase Licence, the decision was handsomely rewarded with his first success under rules when Save Us Avis lowered the colours of The Forge Hill in the Glenview & Rathbarry Mares Maiden Hunter Chase.
A mares’ open winner at Moig South before Christmas, the nine-year-old daughter of Mahler who is owned by a real pointing family in the Mulvihill’s, got the better of The Forge Hill, who has been the standard bearer in the mares division this term in the home straight, and in the end Paul Bannon’s mount had enough up her sleeve to hold off the late attentions of Trickalight and Luke Murphy.
Murphy enjoy better fortunes in the Cork & Waterford Mares point-to-point bumper when he guided Letthetruthbeknown to a comfortable eight-length success for the in-form team of Denis Murphy.
The Shirocco mare who had made her debut at Ballycahane last season, had finished tailed off in a Gowran Park bumper more recently which meant that she was sent off at unfancied odds of 22/1, however having come from the rear of the field she hit the front before entering the final furlong and quickly put distance between herself and the rest of the field.
The five-year-old ultimately got the better of Golden Bidar in second with the long-absent Royal Gloriosa offering a great deal of promise to take third.
The other point-to-point bumper on the card, the Pegus Horse Feed-sponsored finale, saw Cobblers Dream take advantage of a slight easing of the race conditions owing to the ongoing implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, to run out a 12/1 winner under James Hannon.
The five-year-old may have only pulled up on his sole previous outing in a Turtulla maiden back in November, however his connections clearly hold him in high regard as he was back in from an opening price of 40/1 and duly delivered to get the better of two shorter-priced rivals in Midnight It Is and Casey West.
That pair has both finished second in point-to-point bumpers in recent weeks at Punchestown and Tipperary respectively.
There was further frustration for favourite backers when the odds-on shot Winged Leader got turned over by Warriors Tale in the Jack Tyner Memorial Hunter Chase.
Eugene O’Sullivan’s 12-year-old had run in three opens during the autumn with a best effort of second behind Templebredin at Boulta in November, but he took a significant step forward in the hands of the trainer’s daughter Maxine, as they defeated the Tetretema Cup runner-up by two and-a-half lengths with the Enda Bolger pair of Blue Templar and Auvergnat taking third and fourth positions.
Owned by Trevor Hemmings, the British-bred had previously enjoyed success over the National fences at Aintree in the 2018 Grand Sefton when with Paul Nicholls and connections had hoped to qualify him for the Foxhunters at the Liverpool venue before the Covid-19 restrictions brought point-to-point action to a halt.
There was some relief for favourite supporters when Wrong Direction duly delivered a performance fitting of his odds-on price as he landed the John Thomas McNamara Series Maiden Hunter Chase under Johnny Hurley.
A former winner of the INHSC Final, Seamus Spillane’s 11-year-old struggled in the Tetretema Cup at Gowran on his latest outing, however the slight drop in grade paid off as he overcame the persistent challenge of the 50/1 shot Easca Mor to take control of the three-mile contest after the last and he may now be set to return to handicap company on the track.