THERE was a fabulous atmosphere at last Sunday’s Killeagh Harriers meeting at Carrigarostig and Derek O’Connor’s decision to make a detour to east Cork en-route to Punchestown, paid rich dividends as he guided his brother Paurick’s Gentle Queen to an authoritative success in the truly run five-year-old mares’ maiden.
The hooded Gentle Queen (2/1 - 7/4 favourite), who pulled-up on her only previous start at Dromahane last season, tracked the leader Trishknowsbest until picking up the running before the penultimate of the 15 obstacles.
I Am Gonna Be and Potters Princess were soon in her slipstream, but the sweet-jumping daughter of Gentlewave was well and truly in command from the last as she asserted to beat the Tattersalls November third I Am Gonna Be by two and a half lengths.
Potters Princess indicated that she will be winning before too long by returning a further six lengths adrift of the Three Dudes Syndicate-owned Gentle Queen in third spot.
“She’s a lovely big mare that Juliet Minton owns with me and she will now go to the sales,” said handler O’Connor of the physically imposing Gentle Queen. He added: “Eoin Mahon does all the work with this mare at home, but he couldn’t ride her today as he is suspended.”
Barry O’Neill was the only individual to partner two winners and the reigning champion will seldom ride an easier winner than he did aboard Gordon Elliott’s Mighty Stowaway in the open.
Mighty Stowaway (4/5 - 4/6 favourite), who was posting a fourth success of the season, tracked Fenno’s Storm in second spot until easing past the front-runner from six out.
It was clear that the Cullentra House Stables’ 11-year-old was well in command from after three out and, although eased inside the final 100 yards, he still dispensed with Fenno’s Storm by a margin of 16 lengths.
Winning owner Camilla Sharples, who was on lead-up duty, indicated that Mighty Stowaway will continue in point-to-points for the foreseeable future.
O’Neill instigated his brace aboard Colin Bowe’s Senior Chief in the second division of the four-year-old geldings’ maiden, much to the dismay of the 13 bookmakers present.
Last month’s Boulta debut third Senior Chief (7/4 - 2/1 favourite), who shares his sire with Gentle Queen, was always quite well positioned and he moved through to join issue with newcomer Torula on the approach to two out.
There was then little to separate the pair until the winning British-bred, a maternal grandson of the outstanding race mare Absalom’s Lady, powered clear on the ascent from the last to beat Torula by a widening 10 lengths.
Senior Chief, a graduate of the 2020 Goffs UK Summer sale at Doncaster, is now likely to be sold.
Eoin McCarthy generally fares well with his string and the Listowel-based handler kept his supporters happy by saddling Ifeoinly to collect the mares’ winner-of-two contest.
The Moig South maiden winner Ifeoinly (4/1 - 13/2) overtook long-time leader Oscar Tonic before two out and was in no mood to denied from the final fence, with Brian Lawless, as she asserted to dismiss Rose Of Coolbally by two and a half lengths.
It’s likely that Ifeoinly, representing Galwegian Brendan Walsh, will run in a mares’ hunters chase in the spring.
THERE was a most dramatic conclusion to the six-year-old and upwards geldings’ maiden, a race that was ultimately won by former track performer Earl Of Desmond.
Ian McCarthy’s newcomer Broken Bond, who was one of the best-backed horses of the day, always took the eye in running and this son of Ocovango was clearly travelling best in the lead when falling at the final fence.
Sum It up was then left in pole position, but Earl Of Desmond (6/1 - 8/1) rose his effort on the final climb and he surged to the front some 100 yards out with Jack Hendrick to beat the staying-on Free Choice by two lengths.
Earl Of Desmond is one of just two horses trained by Mayglass-based Billy Codd, whose son Jamie was on hand to join in the post-race celebrations with wife Robyn and family.
The Basil Holian-owned winning seven-year-old, who finished third in a Roscommon opportunity maiden hurdle in July 2020 for Peter Fahey, will probably now contest a winners’ race.
There was yet another Co Wexford-trained winner as Cleariestown-based operator Mark Scallan’s Western Diego made a taking winning debut in the first division of the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.
Western Diego (5/1 - 7/1), a son of the Grade 3-placed mare Ask Me Sister, tracked the leaders in third spot until sent about his business by Tiernan Power well after three out.
Western Diego, owned by Marie Claire Neville from Co Wicklow, was travelling best at the last and he was driven out to account for Home Sweet Highway by five lengths.
Scallan, saddling a third winner of the season, suggested that the son of Westerner-sired will be offered for sale in a couple of weeks’ time.
SAM Curling, also on the mark with Aloneamongmillions at Turtulla, completed an across-the-card double courtesy of debutante Heneryetta Bay (3/1 - 7/2) in the six-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden for novice riders.
The Jet Away-sired Heneryetta Bay, who stood out in the preliminaries, was always on the pace and led from half-way to beat Quakerstown runner-up What An Ocean by three lengths under Evan Dwan, who was posting a first winner of the season.
It certainly was a terrific couple of days for Dwan as the Boherlahan native then partnered Bonnie Kellie to victory for Curling in the following afternoon’s John Thomas McNamara QR Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown.
Heneryetta Bay, an above-average winner of an older mares’ maiden, is shared by her Co Tipperary-based joint-breeders’ Seamus Browne and Felix Quinn with the former’s son Jim Browne.
Horse to follow
Broken Bond (I. McCarthy): This newcomer by Ocovango, a close relation to Jennycomequick, was in command when falling at the last. He should prove extremely difficult to beat the next day and is also likely to develop into a track winner.