THE newcomer Fortunate Man lit up Sunday’s Doneraile Harriers fixture at Dromahane by showing a powerful turn of foot to win the four-year-old geldings’ maiden to initiate the opening leg of a two-timer for handler Mick Goff and rider Mikey Sweeney.
On an afternoon that saw 64 horses in action on the six-race card, The Dawn and Ghost Hunter took the 12 runners along from half-way until the latter edged into a couple of lengths advantage on the descent to four out. Fortunate Man (4/1 - 5/1) made smooth progress from mid-division after this fourth-last fence and surged to the front after the penultimate of the 14 obstacles.
The winning son of Soldier Of Fortune was always on top from the last as he unleashed a devastating change of gear that carried him two lengths clear of Ghost Hunter, the pair returning some 12 lengths clear of the third-placed Professor Klum.
“This horse has been exceptional from day one and Pat McCarthy from Caherconlish, who owns him with me, was away on holiday last week and we said that we would wait a week to run him. He will be sold now,” said handler Goff of Fortunate Man, a €42,000 acquisition as a foal who is out of an unraced own-sister to Grade 3 hurdle winner Jenkins from the family of Alamshar.
Goff and Sweeney then combined to capture the five-year-old maiden, the race that attracted the biggest field of the afternoon in 16 runners, with Double Digits (3/1 - 4/1).
The British-bred Double Digits brought probably the best overall piece of form to the table considering that he finished second on his only previous start to Marv Michael at Kinsale in October and he was always positioned close to the pace as Primoz and Champagne Avenue vied for supremacy up front.
Minella Rescue arrived to lead from three out, but the victorious son of Mastercraftsman powered to the front before the last and was always in command on the flat as he returned with a length to spare over the gallant Primoz.
Minella Rescue, who only forfeited second spot as the line approached, indicated that he will be winning before too long by returning a further neck adrift in third.
“He got a bit of time off after finishing second in Kinsale and he’s a horse that’s filling out the whole time,” remarked Goff of his wife Catriona’s Double Digits, whose dam Singing Bird (by Excellent Art) was placed in a Group 3 on the flat.
The closest finish of the afternoon came in the six-year-old and upwards maiden as the David Barry-trained Flemens Intrest (4/1 - 5/1) narrowly got the better of River Vale.
The recent Rathcannon debut fourth Flemens Intrest tracked Gift And Glory from halfway, but it was River Vale who made the decisive move by edging ahead after four out. Flemens Intrest was soon in the slipstream of Michael Winters’ charge and he surged past before the last with Darragh Allen. However, River Vale staged a determined rally from the last and closed to within a short head of the victorious seven-year-old at the line.
Four-horse handler Barry indicated that Flemens Intrest, representing breeder John Cotter from Rathcormac, will now contest a winners’ race.
Rocky’s Howya makes it seven wins this term
THE Rocky’s Howya success story continues to gain momentum and Declan Queally’s charge preserved his unbeaten record in points this season by recording a seventh success of the campaign in the novice riders’ open.
Rocky’s Howya (1/5 favourite), who also finished an excellent fourth in last month’s Cheltenham Foxhunters, was bounced out in front by first-time partner Alan O’Sullivan and it was there that he remained as he swept clear from after two out to dismiss Dashing Perk by nine lengths in the colours of Dungarvan-based owner Mrs Margaret Kiely.
Handler Queally’s son and namesake remarked of the seven-year-old Rocky’s Howya: “He’s a cracking good horse and the plan is to make him champion pointer this season. He leads La Feline by one now as she’s on six wins and he will be entered in the open here at Dromahane next Sunday and then the winners’ race for horses that were maidens at the start of the season takes place here the following Sunday – April 30th.”
Sean Staples, who won a Monksgrange maiden aboard Corach Rambler for former handler John Walsh in September 2020, returned to the coveted number one slot aboard Paul Pierce’s debutant Bellas Bridge (4/1 - 5/1) in the four-year-old mares’ maiden that was staged in honour of Honeysuckle who of course landed the same race in April 2018.
Bellas Bridge was always positioned close to the pace and she alternated the lead a couple of times with True Testimony after original pacesetter One Night Standard gave way after four out. The winning daughter of Telescope moved back to the head of affairs just after the last and duly fought off True Testimony to score by three quarters of a length. One Night Standard benefitted from the penultimate fence departure of Whatmakes Honey B to return a further 18 lengths adrift in third.
The Blackhall Stables Partnership-owned Bellas Bridge, who traces back to Grade 2 winning chaser Mahogany Blaze, was purchased for £10,000 at last year’s Ascot May sale.
Mistymal lands bonus for Alan Ahern
THE Alan Ahern-trained Mistymal (2/1 – 6/4 favourite) booked his ticket as a wildcard to this past Thursday’s Tattersalls Cheltenham Sale by landing the five-year-old and upwards maiden, a race that was restricted to handlers who hadn’t previously trained 10 winners and which also came with a €1,500 bonus to the winning owner.
Mistymal, having caught the eye by finishing fourth to Painted Wolf on testing ground at Ballyknock some 11 days earlier, was sent to the front by Johnny Barry after four out and he asserted from the last to thwart newcomer Wet The Shamrock by a length in the colours of his handler’s sister-in-law Norah Ahern. Mistymal was not sold at £58,000 on Thursday.
Horse to follow
Wet The Shamrock (V. Sheehan): A son of Sageburg, this newcomer kept Mistymal honest from three out in the five-year-old and upwards maiden with just a length separating the pair. The five-year-old should easily atone and also fits the profile of a track winner.