THERE was a fabulous atmosphere at Sunday’s Ballycrystal fixture, staged under the auspices of the Island Foxhounds, and handler Declan Queally provided ample indication that he’s likely to experience a most productive campaign as he departed the Kiltealy venue with a short-priced three-timer.
It was stable amateur Chris O’Donovan that partnered all three of Queally’s winners, the trainer’s initial runners of the campaign incidentally, with the pair signing off courtesy of ex-hurdler and pointing debutant Rocky’s Howya (1/1 - 11/10 favourite) in the older maiden.
In all likelihood, O’Donovan will seldom ride an easier winner as he barely had to strain a sinew aboard the six-year-old.
Returning from an absence of just over a year, the April 2021 Tramore maiden hurdle runner-up made all the running and he coasted clear before the second last of the 15 obstacles to beat the only other finisher, Worth Presenting, by a widening 18 lengths in the colours of Mrs Margaret Kiely from Kilgobnet.
“He’s a horse with plenty of ability and he should have a profitable season,” said Queally of Rocky’s Howya, a 111-rated hurdler that also came a creditable fourth in a Galway beginners’ chase in September of last year.
“He stays well and has been working with Lord Schnitzel at home. He’ll run in a winners’ race now and will probably go for a hunter chase at some stage too.”
The Queally-O’Donovan alliance got the ball rolling courtesy of the well-touted newcomer Desert Cave (6/4 – 5/4 favourite) in the four-year-old auction maiden, much to the dismay of the seven bookmakers present.
Desert Cave, a racy looking son of Court Cave that is out of an unraced half-sister to two blacktype-placed mares in No Sound and Ring Hill, was always in pole position.
None too clever at the third-last, Desert Cave was challenged by Idy Wood from two out. There was then virtually little to separate the pair on the flat with the €15,500 Goffs Land Rover sale graduate shading the verdict to eclipse Idy Wood by a short head, with a two-and-a-half-length break back to Ultra Beat in third.
“He’s a tough horse that has always worked well. He was just a bit green and will probably now be sold,” disclosed Queally of Desert Cave, representing Henry Gettings.
It’s also Rathormac-based Gettings that owns Queally and O’Donovan’s remaining winner Desert Heather (1/2 - 4/5 favourite), who put her experience to good use by landing the five- and six-year-old mares’ maiden.
Desert Heather, a Gettings homebred, was placed on five previous occasions in points and she was always positioned at the head of affairs.
With her rider briefly looking around for dangers on the run to two out, the winning six-year-old daughter of Cloudings stayed on determinedly to account for Castletown-Geoghegan runner-up Ballinclay Court by three lengths.
It’s likely that Desert Heather will continue in points for the foreseeable future whilst, as she has already had three runs over the larger obstacles, she could go handicap chasing at a later stage.
GORDON Elliott appears to have an assortment of riches at his disposal to run in points this term and the Cullentra House handler, following on from Samcro’s bloodless success at Tinahely a week earlier, sent out The Storyteller (4/5 – evens favourite) to make a winning hunt racing debut in a gripping finish to the ladies open.
The Storyteller, who won the 2018 renewal of the Brown Advisory Chase at the Cheltenham festival with the most prestigious of his 11 track victories coming in the 2020 running of the Grade 1 Champion Chase at Down Royal, always travelled well in this nine-runner contest as one would expect of a former 163-rated chaser.
The 11-year-old eased to the front on the long run to three out and he was harried by both Its On The Line and Bajan Exell on the run to the final fence. While Its On The Line closed on the flat, last season’s dual hunter chaser scorer was still a short head adrift of the Mrs Pat Sloan-owned 11-year-old at the line. Bajan Excel, a former 128-rated hurdler, indicated that he will be winning before too long by securing the minor honours a further one and a half lengths adrift.
Elliot’s representative Simon McGonagle suggested that The Storyteller could be aimed at the Down Royal hunter chase over Christmas.
Sean Doyle likes nothing more than to have a winner at this venue and the locally based operator kept his supporters happy by sending out the consistent Old Style Humor (2/1 - 7/2) to collect the five-year-old geldings’ maiden under Jack Hendrick.
Old Style Humor, beaten 29 lengths into second spot by The Same at Tinahely the previous Sunday, moved stylishly into contention from three out and he took the measure of long-time leader Sergeant Moss between the final two fences to dismiss Simon Cavanagh’s mount by three and a half lengths.
It’s probable that the Monbeg Partnership-owned Old Style Humor will now run in some cross-country races.
MATTHEW Flynn O’Connor, whose family own this left-handed course, was absent at a hurling match and he therefore missed the impressive display from his Jet Away-sired charge Ryan’s Rocket (3/1 - 5/1) in the four-year-old maiden.
The Cullen House Syndicate-owned Ryan’s Rocket, having pulled-up on his only previous foray behind subsequent bumper winner Affordable Fury at Ballycahane last March, jumped into the lead three out and Brian Lawless’ mount was clearly travelling best when erring at the second-last with four lengths separating him from recent Tinahely runner-up Ihandaya.
Flynn O’Connor’s representative Brendan Brooks indicated that Ryan’s Rocket, a €48,000 Derby sale graduate that’s a brother to two winners including the blacktype-placed British mare Grageelagh Girl from the same family as Dramatist and Miss Orchestra, is now likely to be sold.
Horse To Follow
IDY WOOD (Gerard Lawless): This French-bred gelding by Coastal Path stepped up from his fourth-placed debut effort at Monksgrange last April by making Desert Cave pull out all the stops in the four-year-old auction maiden. He should effortlessly atone over the coming weeks before embarking on a successful track career.