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Grange Island battles bravely to give O'Connor 500

Grange Island and Global Assembly served up a thrilling finish to the rearranged Rathronan Maiden Hunter Chase at Clonmel on Tuesday afternoon, a race which saw Mikey O’Connor reach a personal milestone 500th winner.
The pair were the two horses that broke clear of the pack from the penultimate fence, and although it was Global Assembly who was the quicker away from the last, Barry O’Neill’s mount could not repel the last gasp challenge of Liam Burke’s charge who went on to prevail by a head.
The favourite Wearelongterm had raced to the fore throughout alongside the eventual runner-up and the Lisronagh winner War Call, but when the latter began to thread water from the third-last fence, the 2m4f contest soon concerned a group of five horses who pulled clear around the home bend.
Wearelongterm had no more to offer from the second-last and it was Denise O’Shea’s 25/1 shot Baldur’s Gate who came through to take the third spot, albeit some four and a half lengths in arrears of both Grange Island and Global Assembly.
This second career success for Liam Burke’s Moig South maiden winner marked a notable step up from his hunter chase debut when he could only manage sixth at Limerick over Christmas, but he turned the form with Johngus, Lavinia Fontana and Baldur’s Gate who had all finished in front of him to bring jockey Mikey O’Connor to a career tally of 500 winners.
A good run of late in the pointing fields had brought the Cork rider’s tally in that sphere to 411 winners as he closes in on Enda Bolger’s 413 career tally and the number five spot on the ultimate riders table.
But this first track winner since October 2014 was in itself an important one as it brought him to a total of 500 between points and the track.


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