IT was great to see so many locally-owned and trained winners over the two days of the East Antrims’ Easter fixture at Loughanmore and on both afternoons the final race on the card was won by a locally-bred horse.
They certainly don’t come more locally-owned, trained and bred than the Califet gelding Ballymackie who brought up a double for landowner Wilson Dennison and resident trainer Colin McKeever when landing Saturday’s concluding Fleet Financial winners’ of two race by a length and a half.
The five-year-old, who completed a treble for rider Derek O’Connor and sent punters home happy, was bred at Loughanmore by the home-based Katrina Mackie (Wilson’s daughter) out of Moll Magee, a British-bred daughter of Yeats and the listed bumper and hurdle winner, Karello Bay.
Nativehill, who initiated the Dennison/McKeever double when landing division two of the Connolly’s Red Mills five-year-old geldings’ maiden on his second start, is a Flemensfirth half-brother to a former Loughanmore resident in the top-class chaser Bellshill. Nativehill topped the 2023 Aintree Sale on Thursday when selling for £260,000.
The Affinisea gelding Caherty, who won the first division of that maiden on his debut for Philip McBurney, Gerald Quinn and Noel McParlan, is among those heading to the Tattersalls Cheltenham Sale next Thursday when he is due to be sold as Lot 62.
Another of Saturday’s winners heading across to that sale is The Gambler (Lot 29) who, trained by Patrick Turley, landed the Barclay Communications five-year-old mares’ maiden by six and a half lengths under Deckie Lavery.
The Workforce bay, who was having her third start, ran in the colours of her delighted Banbridge breeder Neville Reid.
Also bound for Prestbury Park is El Fabienne (Lot 39), a French-bred daughter of Spanish Moon who, on her debut, finished second in division one of Saturday’s opening Tattersalls NH four-year-old mares’ maiden for owner/trainer Stuart Crawford.
Another set to leave Newlands Farm is Raymond Scullion and Martin McGrogan’s Largy Poet (Lot 56) who finished second to his stable-companion and fellow newcomer, Jasmin de Vaux, in division two of the Dennison Commercials four-year-old geldings’ maiden.
On Monday, the locally-owned, trained and bred winner of the concluding Islandbawn and the INHSC older mares’ maiden, who amazingly was also by Califet, was Rosevale.
This six-year-old bay, who was having her second start and was ridden by Deckie Lavery, and is trained by Peter Buchanan for his sister Jane who bred the winner out of Zaffarella (by Zaffaran), dam previously of the track winners Windsor Avenue, Ravenhill Road, etc.
The previously-mentioned owners, Scullion and McGrogan, got their winner on day two when the Stuart Crawford-trained, Ben Crawford-ridden Saint d’Oroux landed the John Thompson and Sons open by four and a half lengths.
Ross Crawford made it an excellent day for the family at their local hunt’s Easter Monday fixture when Stephen Connor partnered Annaghbeg to victory in the Topping Meats adjacent winners’ of two where his nearest challenger at the line was Ballymackie’s year-older full-brother, Ballylinch.
Annaghbeg, a five-year-old gelding by Conduit, was bred by Alan and Bill Dunlop and is the first of three foals out of the Jimble mare Pawle.
The Crawfords had to settle for second in the following Jacksons Butcher Shop and Bakery older geldings’ maiden for novice riders when Seamus Richmond’s home-bred Kalanisi bay Lough Des was beaten by another son of the same sire in Leish Oscars Son.
The latter, who was despatched as favourite on his third start, is trained by Graham McKeever for Martin Abernethy.