COUNTY Clare Hunt are looking forward to a great day’s racing as they unveil a brand-new left-handed track on the lands of the Lee family at Quakerstown, Boston near Tubber for their annual point-to-point on Sunday.
Locals recall that racing went ahead in this area in the past with the last known action having taken place as far back as 1948. Lesabelle, who won the 1973 Galway Hurdle for the Christy Lee/Mark Scully partnership, was put through her paces on these lands prior to scoring at Ballybrit so the link with horse racing at the Burren venue is well established.
Action on-track kicks off at 2.30pm with a four-year-old maiden. This is followed at 3pm by a maiden race for five-year-old geldings. A six-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden is next on the list with a winners’ race going to post half an hour later. A six-year-old and upwards geldings’ maiden is the penultimate event with the always popular five-year-old and upwards confined maiden for novice riders bringing proceedings to a close.
Regional secretary, Frankie Ward, has received 135 entries for Sunday’s meeting which indicates that it is going to be a busy day for all concerned at the North Clare track.
Top trainers like Colin Bowe, Tony Martin, Robert Tyner and Pat Doyle are just some with horses engaged while local handlers Jason Titley, Paurick O’Connor, Frank Lynch, Garrett Hassett, Raymond Lee, Brian Hassett and Tom Costello are among those who will be batting on behalf of the home team.
Six-time champion jockey Derek O’Connor hopes to be riding at meeting, which would be good news for his large following, while JT McNamara, Paul O’Neill, James Conheady and Colm Murray will also be in action.
Punters travelling to Sunday’s meeting can gain access to the course from the main Ennis to Galway road by taking the turn-off for Tubber just outside Crusheen. The track is on the left-hand side approximately 11kms for this point and will be well signposted. Fans travelling from the Gort direction should follow the Corofin road. A one-way traffic system will be in operation to facilitate an easy flow to the venue and there will be plenty of stewards on duty on the approach roads to ensure there will be no delays.
As always at this traditional Easter Sunday outing, the emphasis will be very much on a fun day out for all the family. In-field activities will include the usual hurdy-gurdies for the young kids, while the adults can relax and enjoy the thrills and spills of jump racing at its best.
County Clare Hunt point-to-point secretary, Paul O’Neill, is expecting the new venue to be a big success.
“We are very happy with the course and we’ve had great feedback on it so far. A lot of work has gone into getting the track ready and I’d like to thank the Lee family for making their lands available to us,” he said.
Clooney jockey Tommy Considine, who will also be riding at Quakertown on Sunday, got on the score sheet at last Sunday’s Galway Blazers session at Loughrea where he took the confined maiden aboard 4/1 shot Manucho.
Trained by Raymond Lee for his partner Rena McGrath, Manucho benefited from a power-packed ride from Considine when keeping on well in the closing stages to beat the Tony Costello-trained Strong Soul by a length. Manucho is due to make a quick re-appearance in a winners’ race at Quakerstown on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Derek O’Connor had a really busy weekend having ridden at three meetings in two days as he continues his march to yet another jockeys’ championship.
The six-time champion paid his by now customary visit to the north on Saturday afternoon to compete at the North Down session at Loughbrickland and the Tubber pilot was quickly into his stride when taking the opening four-year-old maiden with 7/4 favourite Camden.
Representing leading owner Wilson Dennison and trainer Colin McKeever, this son of Old Vic had to get the full O’Connor treatment when just lasting home to beat runner-up Sweeney Tunes by a head.
Later in the afternoon, O’Connor completed a double when teaming up with regular partner Top Twig, who strolled to success for trainer David Christie in the open lightweight. A really classy performer, Top Twig never came out of second gear in this contest when justifying the cramped odds of 1/4f as he coasted to a six-length victory over St Matthew.
O’Connor headed to the Tipperary Foxhounds’ outing at Lisronagh on Sunday where he took the opening four-year-old maiden aboard Pat Doyle’s 6/4 shot Resolute Bay.
Owned by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House operation, this son of Presenting quickened up really from the final fence to beat Andy Slattery’s Ashtown Boy by a neck.
Having hit the target at the Clonmel venue, 27-year-old O’Connor then dashed to the Duhallow Foxhounds outing at Liscarrol, County Cork where he rounded off a busy weekend with a win when steering Kilmoney Queen (4/1) to victory in the first division of the concluding six and seven-year-old mares’ maiden.
Trained in East Cork by Timmy O’Callaghan, Kilmoney Queen took full advantage of the final fence exit of the challenging Cappawhite Lass to beat runner-up Aneda Rose by 10 lengths.
O’Connor is currently on the 61-winner mark for the season leaving him 10 ahead of his nearest rival Jamie Codd in the race for this year’s leading jockey award with two months of the season left to run.
Navan joy for Brassil
GRAND National-winning trainer Martin Brassil does really well with his relatively small string and the Dunmurray, County Kildare-based Newmarket-on-Fergus native underlined that fact when sending out 16/1 shot, Mister Farmer, to land the closing Headfort Handicap Chase at Navan on Saturday afternoon.
A first-fence faller on his previous start, Mister Farmer was one of four horses in with a chance going to the final fence in this two-and-a-half-mile contest and he dug deep on the uphill run to the post under Niall Madden to beat runner-up Barcardero by half a length.
The winner is owned by Ennis-born, Dublin-based property developer Bernard Carroll who also owned Brassil’s 2006 Grand National hero, Numbersixvalverde, which was also ridden to that heroic success by Madden.
Following Saturday’s success, Brassil said, “That is this horse’s first win over jumps in 15 attempts and we are delighted. He won on the flat in France before we got him and he is a useful sort. He fell at the first fence the last day and all we wanted to do today was to get him jumping and take it from there. He’ll go for another handicap somewhere now that he’s got his head in front.”
All eyes this coming weekend will be on the big Easter meeting at Fairyhouse where Brassil could have an interesting contender in Monday’s Irish Grand National with Ambobo. This Seán Mulryan-owned 10-year-old won a good race when beating Vic Venturi and Arbour Supreme at Punchestown last May and, having warmed up with a couple of spins over hurdles recently, he might prove a bit of each-way value at 25/1.
Local followers will be hoping that Michael Hourigan’s Cheltenham hero, A New Story, gets a run for the Storey’s Over Syndicate from Ennis while Tony Martin’s Saddlers Storm, who bypassed Cheltenham in favour of this contest, looks set to start favourite in this three-mile, five-furlong test.