LAST Sunday’s Tipperary Foxhounds Point-to-Point at Lisronagh proved a happy hunting ground for Banner representatives with Sixmilebridge trainer Joe Quinn and Quin handler Malachy Hassett both visiting the winner’s enclosure.
Quinn was first to hit the target when his promising sort, My Dark Inishowen (5/2F) landed the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.
Niall Kelleher did the steering aboard this son of Milan, who had hinted at better things to come when second on his only previous start at Askeaton, but the pair may have had luck on their side as Bach To Whitingbay was five lengths clear when falling at the final fence.
His exit left the way clear for My Dark Inishowen, who kept on well on the run-in to beat Jack Bennett’s Yellow Dog by five lengths.
Quinn, who trains the winner for Derry owner Patrick Doherty, said, “This is a very good horse. This tight track didn’t really suit him and the ground might have been a bit lively for him, yet he won.
“Niall gave him a great ride and I’m delighted for him as well. He is entered in the Point-to-Point Bumper at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday and may go there next. There is a big three-mile chase to won with this horse some day.”
Pat ‘Malachy’ Hassett is one of the real characters of the jumping game and the Quin publican got his name on the score sheet when his Paddysparks justified 3/1 favouritism in the second division of the concluding older geldings’ maiden.
A model of consistency having been placed in six of his nine starts between the flags prior to Sunday, this Beneficial-sired seven-year-old was produced with a well-timed challenge by John Daniel Moore to head Bob From Pruntus on the run-in, before edging clear to beat that rival by half a length.
The winner, who had a couple of spins on the track last summer, will now go back over fences inside the rails.
The battle for this year’s point-to-point riders’ championship is really hotting up with Jamie Codd throwing down the gauntlet to reigning champion Derek O’Connor in a big way.
Wexford-born Codd was on fire over the weekend riding eight winners in 48 hours, which included a five-timer at Saturday afternoon’s Loughbrickland, County Down session.
O’Connor was also in action at that meeting, hitting the target just once when steering Fort View Wings (2/1F), trained in Ballymena by Ian Ferguson, to victory in the second division of the older geldings’ maiden.
O’Connor and Codd went their separate ways on Sunday afternoon with Codd continuing his good run by bagging a hat-trick at his local Lingstown, County Wexford meeting.
Seven-time champion O’Connor was in action at the Galway Blazers session in Athenry where he too recorded a hat-trick.
His first success of the afternoon came in the opening four-year-old maiden where Pat Doyle’s newcomer Royal Boy (6/4F) made a winning debut. Sent to the front two out, the French-bred looked set for a comfortable success, but northern raider Balinroab put it right up to him in the closing with only a length separating the pair at the line.
Win number two for O’Connor, who along with John Earls, owner of recent Cheltenham winner Chicago Grey, was honoured during racing for his historic achievements at Prestbury Park, came in the form of Phar From A Friend, who justified the cramped odds of 4/6 favourite in good style.
Craughwell handler Paul Gilligan trains this ex-Tom Costello inmate for Mullingar owners Shay and Kathleen Gillen and the market leader stamped himself a horse with a bright future when running out a clear cut four-length winner over Niall Madden’s Curragh Boy.
The O’Connor hat-trick was completed in the first division of the concluding mares’ maiden where well-backed favourite Mrs Kennedy (7/2-6/4) landed the odds, albeit in fortunate circumstances.
The one-length winner, trained in County Tipperary by Sam Curling, was strongly pressed by eventual runner-up See To Believe, who carries the colours of Ennis owner Edel Ryan, when that rival made a costly blunder at the last which almost certainly cost her the race.
The title race between Codd and O’Connor (which currently stands 60-58 in favour of the Wexford man) looks set to dominate the remainder of the season and both jockeys will be going all out for winners until the 2010/11 campaign ends at Ballingarry over the June Bank Holiday Weekend.
Dunboyne stakes Guineas claim
KEVIN Prendergast has always held a high opinion of Dunboyne Express and the Shamardal colt booked his ticket for the Irish 2,000 Guineas with a fine win in the one-mile Group 3 Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial last Sunday.
Declan McDonagh’s mount went for home early in the straight and he picked up really nicely when asked to do so, with the 5/4 favourite passing the post a length and three-quarters in front of runner-up Exodus. Whipless finished a neck away in third with the only other intended runner, John Oxx’s Cocozza, failing take any part having to be withdrawn when sitting down in the stalls.
Curragh-based Prendergast was pleased but realistic about his charge’s showing. “He did it well but you wouldn’t exactly be raving about it either. It was a pity the other horse (Cocozza) didn’t run as we would have found out more. He’ll go straight to the Curragh now for the 2,000 Guineas.”
Bookmakers got a bit of a caning in the 1,000 Guineas trial where Aidan O’Brien’s Empowering landed a decent touch. Backed from 12/1 into 11/2, this Joseph O’Brien-ridden filly made all the running, battling well in the closing stages to hold off stable-companion Wild Wind by a length and three-quarters. The winner will now contest the English 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Great racing at Limerick on Sunday
Limerick Racecourse is the place to be on Sunday where Mother’s Day is being celebrated with an excellent seven-race card, which kicks off at 2.35pm.
To celebrate the occasion, all mums and ladies will admitted free while anybody turning up to the Greenmount Park venue on Sunday wearing a Munster jersey will be offered a discount. This offer is also being extended to all Leinster supporters who are visiting Limerick for the Munster V Leinster clash at Thomond Park on Saturday afternoon.
On track, the Grade 2 Hugh McMahon Chase (where Colm Murphy’s Quito De La Roque and Roi Du Mee from Gordon Elliott’s yard look the principals) and the Listed Kevin McManus bumper (Dermot Weld’s unbeaten Waheeb will go off a short-priced favourite here) are top-class races for punters to get their teeth into, so all in all it should be a wonderful afternoon at the Patrickswell venue.
Meanwhile, Temlett, who landed a massive gamble at Cork recently, is facing another spell on the sidelines. The seven-year-old, who won an Ulster Derby for Willie Mullins, was backed from 25/1 to 11/2 favourite when overcoming a 1060-day lay-off to score on his first outing for Kildare trainer John Daniel Moore at the Mallow track.
Unfortunately, the son of Desert Prince, who is jointly-owned by London-based Clare native Joe Chambers Jnr (whose father Joe is a well-known Ennis solicitor) and Dubliner Danny McGinley, suffered a re-occurrence of leg trouble during that race and will not be seen in action for some time as a result.