THE Gordon Elliot-trained Hardline provided further credence to the maxim ‘once a good horse, always a good horse’ by making a winning return to points duty to provide 19-year-old Luke Galligan from Kells in Co Meath with a first career success in the novice riders’ open at last Sunday’s Castletown-Geoghegan fixture.
Hardline (2/1 - 5/2), a former 161-rated chaser for Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud that recorded the most prestigious of his eight track successes in the 2018 renewal of the Grade 1 novices’ chase at Limerick, was purchased for a mere £8,000 on owner Alexandra Hutter’s behalf at Doncaster last month and the gelding always travelled well here as Some Man and Mount Pelier took the four runners along.
The winning 10-year-old struck the front on the incline from the third last of the 15 obstacles and he still had the pursuing Some Man, last season’s champion pointer, to contend with approaching the last.
Hardline was the faster in the air here and the 135-rated chaser then drew clear to dismiss Some Man by two and a half lengths.
Mount Pelier indicated that he will be winning before too long by making a most encouraging hunt racing debut, a further three lengths adrift in third.
Galligan, who was cheered on by a plethora of family and friends that included some of Elliott’s staff, reported: “Hardline gave me a savage spin and he got a great jump at the last.”
Galligan, who had just one previous mount in a bumper, has been working with Elliott since leaving school in June 2021.
Owner-trainer Warren Ewing, who started off Constitution Hill in points in April 2021, seems to have another smart sort on his hands in the four-year-old maiden winner Rock My Way (3/1 - 7/2).
The towering Rock My Way, who displayed clear signs of promise by finishing third in a Loughanmore maiden last Easter in which this past Monday’s Stratford bumper Kayf Legend came fourth, was always positioned on the pace with last season’s Ballyknock debut fourth Painted Wolf.
There was little to separate the pair until Rock My Way eased to the head of affairs before two out for talented 5lb claimer Dara McGill and the winning son of Getaway strode clear on the flat to beat Painted Wolf, who briefly ran short of room on the inner at the last, by two and a half lengths.
Ballyfort indicated that he’s another sure winner to emerge from this race by securing the minor honours, a further three and a half lengths adrift.
Ewing remarked of Rock My Way who hails from a French distaff family that includes Grade 1-winning chaser So French: “He’s a good horse that ran well last season and I thought that I had left him short here today as he was carrying a bit of condition.
“I bought him from a neighbour of mine Barbara Hanna as a three-year-old and he’ll now be sold.”
The Leslie Young-trained Lough Na Fooey (2/1 - 5/2), having shown some promise in hurdles over the summer when attaining a 92 rating, made a winning return in the five- and six-year-old mares’ maiden.
Mamaker set sail for home from three out at by which staged the eventual winner was being rousted along in third by Johnny Barry.
Lough Na Fooey however stormed to the head of affairs at the penultimate fence and the Linus Fahy-owned bay, a daughter of Hewick’s sire Virtual, was always in command thereafter with two and a half lengths separating her from Ballinclay Court.
O’Sullivans combine in victory
ALAN O’SULLIVAN (19), a first year biological sciences student at CIT, brought his career tally to three by landing the closing six-year-old and upwards maiden aboard his uncle Eugene O’Sullivan’s Headscratcher (7/1 - 10/1).
The seven-year-old, who was fitted with cheekpieces, left the form of his four previous efforts well behind by hitting the front after three out and he was travelling best in the lead with a couple of lengths advantage on the run to the final fence. At the post, Headscratcher had four lengths to spare over the patiently-ridden Cool Captain.
Rider O’Sullivan was keen post-race to recall Headscratcher’s former owner Barry O’Sullivan who died last year and the latter’s daughter Jemma fittingly presently rides out at the winning handler’s Lombardstown yard.
There was another family success in the five- and six-year-old geldings’ maiden as Hills Of Glory (5/2 - 3/1 co-favourite) won this six-runner contest under his Co Wicklow-based owner-trainer John Walsh’s son James.
Last season’s Dromahane debut fourth Hills Of Glory, a close relation to Ferny Hollow, benefited from waiting tactics and he still had a couple of lengths to make up on leader Hornet Nolimit from two out.
The winner, a son of Fame And Glory responded to his rider’s urgings by assuming command at the last en route to powering clear on the flat to contain Hornet Nolimit by two lengths.
It’s probable that Hills Of Glory, a co-favourite of four that provided the six bookmakers present with their only semblance of a poor result, will now be sold.
Green light for O’Donovan
THE maiden Lights Are Green (3/1 - 4/1) made his initial start for owner-trainer John O’Donovan, who with his son Chris, has five horses in training this season, a victorious one by springing a mild surprise under a well-judged Joanna Walton ride in the winners-of-two.
Having finished second on his final points start last term in the Loughrea adjacent maiden, the five-year-old Lights Are Green led until overtaken by Garm Colombe and Cappajune Lady with three fences remaining.
Runner-up Cappajune Lady appeared in command from two out, but the eventual winner came back with a renewed effort to hit the front at the last to account for Heather Kiernan’s charge by five lengths.
Horse to follow
Painted Wolf (C. Bowe): A son of Telescope, this fellow made the more experienced Rock My Way, to whom he was conceding 5lb, fight all the way in the four-year-old maiden. He was beaten by two and a half lengths into second and should easily gain revenge over the coming weeks.