THE second day of the Largy fixture saw a stark contrast in weather conditions as heavy rain battered the Co Antrim venue throughout the day.
Stuart Crawford has been in fine form of late and he continued that good run here with a double that was kickstarted in an incident-packed open contest.
The odds-on favourite Some Man slipped up before the third with Rose Of Coolbally soon taking up the running. She was being challenged by Stamp Your Feet (2/1 – 5/2) when she came down at the last, leaving the Stephen Connor-ridden 10-year-old to score in good style by two lengths from the Ian Donoghue-trained Bajan Excell.
“I think I was always going to get there to be honest,” said Connor of the gelding whose handler Stuart Crawford also owns. “I bought him in Doncaster back in January and I only gave a small price for him. I have a few people to thank who put him forward for me and it’s paid off!
“We might have a crack at another point-to-point but I would like to go to Stratford with him to see if he’s in that calibre. He was in Punchestown during the week but we decided to come here in the end.”
The Crawford double was brought up in the concluding adjacent maiden, courtesy of The Sad Shepherd (3/1 – 9/4 favourite). The smooth-travelling five-year-old, who was ridden by Crawford’s brother Ben, took up the running between the final two fences before going on to score by four lengths over Fitzburg.
The winner had finished fifth at Portrush on debut before finishing fourth last time out at Loughanmore. The winning rider said, of the T.J. Topping-owned son of Yeats: “He was probably unlucky not to win the first day out in Portrush because when he jumped the second last, he was just very green.”
“We probably ran him too soon then at Loughanmore and we were just a wee bit more patient with him today. He did there what we thought he would do first time out. He’ll be sales bound now.”
The five-year-old geldings’ maiden looked wide open on paper but it was the Mark Scallan-trained Gametime (5/2 – 7/1) who took up the running after the second last and went on to score by a commanding 17 lengths from the Harley Dunne-ridden Charlie’s Rockstar.
Gametime was providing Scallan with his eighth winner of the campaign and rider Sean Staples with his seventh. “He didn’t get the best of runs the last day and I thought he should have won then to be honest,” said the handler of the Laura Scallan-owned gelding. “He proved that today. He’s a good horse on nice ground.”
THE opening four-year-old geldings’ maiden saw a field of 10 newcomers face the starter and plenty held chances as the runners approached the second last.
Divilskin (6/4 – 3/1 favourite) emerged from the pack under Barry O’Neill to take up the running between the final two fences before going on to score by three and a half lengths from Easter Junction.
Absent winning handler Colin Bowe won this race in 2016 with subsequent Grade 2 winner Getabird and he looks to have another useful prospect on his hands here.
Barry O’Neill said, of the Milestone Bloodstock Ltd-owned gelding: “He’s a very smart horse. He did well to win because the horse in front of him slipped, and put him off the track before the second last. He’s a good horse to come back and still do that. He’ll go to the sales now.”
The mares winners’ contest saw a small but competitive field of four go to post. So Ladylike (4/1 – 5/1) and Caoimhe O’Brien took up the running around the halfway point and they were not for catching after that point as they ran out strong staying winners by three and a half lengths from the favourite Alice O’Byrne. The winner was recording her third success of the season and it was also O’Brien’s third career success, with all of those wins coming on this admirable daughter of Yeats.
“She’s as tough as nails,” said winning handler Ian Donoghue of the mare who runs in the colours of Alana Jane McGuinness. “She wouldn’t be the fastest but she’s honest and jumps all day.
“She is Caoimhe’s own horse and runs in our colours and has been a great mare for Caoimhe who has won three on her now. She’s going to college actually so we’re looking to sell her now. She could go over to Doncaster for the sales.”
THE INHSC sponsored older maiden featured a €3,000 bonus for the winning owner and it was confined to handlers who had trained 10 winners or less. It saw a field of 11 go to post in what turned into a stamina-sapping contest.
Step Above (3/1 – 5/1) ended up making most under Harley Dunne, to score by two and a half lengths from Nearly Wed. The winner had fallen on debut at Moira before a promising fourth-placed effort last time out at Lingstown.
Winning handler David O’Brien said, of the gelding whom he also owns: “I had aspergillus in my yard up until February, and he just wasn’t seeing out his races. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong as his work at home was quite good. We got that sorted out, gave him a break and he was good today, thank God.
“He did his job well. It’s a nice pot to win. Fair play to the INHSC because it’s a good initiative for handlers to be fair. It attracts the smaller trainers because it’s not easy against the bigger yards so we won’t complain. He’ll go to the sales now.”
Horse to Follow
Easter Junction (D.P. Murphy):
This four-year-old son of Mount Nelson was doing his best work at the finish and looks a winner in waiting on the back of this extremely promising debut performance.