THE 2022 season started with an unusually small number of entries on March 27th at Portmarnock.

On a positive note, 2022 is now the second year in a row that racing has started in late March and eventually it will dawn on trainers that there is money to be made. John Richardson with a double, Billy Roche and Sean Kane a winner apiece sums up proceedings.

The easiest pickings in the sport are for those that get out early in the year or who soldier on in the colder weather of October and November.

The top-class horses are aimed for the big summer highlights or laid off once they have done enough. This report is unlikely to contain the name of this year’s Red John nor M50 winner.

JR and Billy both had good moments and bad on Sunday. Obviously, a brace of winners is a nice day’s work for Richardson but the diminutive Meadowbranch Aurora was favourite to win a two-horse race and got overturned.

Buliano, driven by Roche, was nibbled at in the market for the C to E trot. The 11-year-old got away to a perfect position but faded a bit at the business end of the race.

Ran two

Meadowbranch ran two here and it was the strongly built mare Colombia d’ Oysse (John Richardson) who prevailed from stablemate Carre Chic (Charlie Flanagan).

Meadowbranch Dynasty (2/5 to 4/6) always looked to be the winner of the E to F pace. West End Illusion (Billy Roche) came in for some support, but Billy had to reach for the stick early enough and he found nothing.

A time of 2.03.5 was Dynasty’s clock with Crack A Smile (Wayne McNevin) the runner-up. John Richardson said: “He did it well enough but he should be winning in this grade. He will face stiffer tasks later in the year.”

Vaillant de Gueham (Billy Roche) looked well as they warmed up for the Grade F trot. The win was a nice training performance as the 13-year-old looked like he was not in love with the game late last year.

The mare Ella du Fosse was second for Patrick Kane jnr, on a rare blank day. The winner was never bigger than 6/4.

Made all

In the concluding grade G pace the draw proved crucial even though there were only two runners. Sean Kane made all from the ‘one hole’ and Springhill Zep proved to be a tough nut to crack when John Richardson stoked up Meadowbranch Aurora. Springhill Zep held on by three-parts of a length from the tough little Aurora who always runs to the line.

Joe Sheridan raced both the sire Ayr Glory and the dam Yleen Zheb himself. John Richardson frequently drove Yleen Zheb. Springhill Zep has a nice pacing gait even though his dam was a trotter.