IT was a case of second time lucky for the Clonmult/Dungourney meeting at Boulta on Sunday and handler Declan Queally continued his astonishing run of success at the United Hunt Club-sanctioned fixture by sending out Rocky’s Howya to maintain his unbeaten record this season by registering his third success of the campaign in the winners-of-two.
A former 111-rated hurdler that was successful on his previous two starts at Ballycrystal and Rathcannon, Rocky’s Howya (5/4 - 6/4 favourite) was soon positioned at the head of affairs with regular partner Chris O’Donovan and he had Ihavent A Clue for company until the latter gave way with six fences still remaining.
The eventual winner was soon tracked by main market-rival Dul Ar Aghaidh, but the latter had no more to offer once the victorious six-year-old asserted after three out. It was all plain sailing thereafter as Rocky’s Howya powered clear to dispose of Dul Ar Aghaidh by 29 lengths in the colours of Mrs Margaret Kiely. Call It Time, absent since January 2021, made a most satisfactory return to action by returning a further head adrift in third.
This was Queally’s 10th winner of the season from just 12 runners, which means that he’s presently operating at a near 84% strike rate.
The Cappagh-based handler reported of Rocky’s Howya: “He’s a very good point-to-pointer that jumps well and we’ll look at an open for him now in the new year.”
Owner-trainer John Staunton’s Cornamona (3/1 - 4/1) made a taking winning debut in the four-year-old mares’ maiden.
The Doyen-sired Cornamona, a graduate of last year’s Tattersalls Ireland July Sale who’s a maternal granddaughter of Grade 1-placed hurdler Boro Bow, was always positioned quite close to the pace under her joint-owner Eoin Mahon and she edged ever closer in fourth spot after the third last of the 12 obstacles.
The early-May foal hit the front after two out and stormed clear from the last to beat last month’s Lisronagh third Kit’s Coty by an increasing seven lengths in the style of a probable track winner.
“She’s a filly that we’ve always liked, but she was too green to run at the back end of last season,” said Staunton. The Galwegian then added: “Eoin [Mahon] named her after a song by The Sawdoctors and she will probably be sold now.”
The five-year-old geldings’ maiden attracted the biggest field of the day in 10 runners with victory going to the Ciaran Fennessy-trained newcomer Twoconduit (4/1 - 6/1), the mount of talented 5lb claimer Alan O’Sullivan.
Longhouse Star still held a fractional advantage over the patiently ridden Twoconduit when falling at the last and the wining son of Conduit, sporting the silks of Mayobridge-based owner Patsy Murphy, drew clear on the flat to dismiss last month’s Lingstown debut third Bloomhill by nine lengths.
“I was expecting a good run and I would like to thank Pat and David Barry from Rathcormac for letting me use their gallop during the week,” commented former southern regional champion rider Fennessy.
THE local contingent had plenty of cause for celebration with Conna-based handler Eamonn Gallagher’s Lady Kate justifying favouritism in the five-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden, much to the dismay of the five bookmakers present.
The Eoin O’Brien-ridden Lady Kate (4/5 favourite), runner-up to subsequent British bumper winner Lady Stanwix at Lisronagh last February, moved second behind Imperial Valley before two out.
There was then very little to separate the pair until the winning daughter of Elusive Pimpernel, owned and bred by Conor O’Brien, mastered Imperial Valley over 50 yards out to beat Mikey O’Connor’s mount by a length, with the pair the only finishers.
“She’s a mare that was just a bit immature last season, but she has always worked well. She might be sold now,” said handler Gallagher of Lady Kate, an own-sister to his October Kinsale winner Tender Heart.
Sean Aherne, who trains less than two miles away from the aforementioned Gallagher at Shankill Cross, saddled Johngus (4/6 favourite) to land the adjacent hunts maiden.
The admirably consistent Johngus, a former 113-rated hurdler who also finished second in a three-mile qualified riders’ handicap chase at Thurles off a mark of 102 last February, atoned for his second-placed return effort at Ballindenisk on December 4th by forging to the front approaching two out.
With winning rider Johnny Hurley looking around for non-existent dangers after this penultimate obstacle, the eight-year-old swept clear before the last to dispose of Glorious Mist by an unextended 12 and a half lengths.
“He could go to Limerick now for the hunters chase over Christmas and then there’s also a hunters chase at Clonmel next month,” remarked owner/trainer Aherne. “He might be a horse that’s not entirely a three-miler.”
Speedy debut winner for Donnchadh Doyle
THE Donnchadh Doyle success story continued as the absent Co Wexford-based operator, fresh from his double at Borris House the previous Sunday, sent out Speed Davis (5/2 – 9/4) to make a triumphant career debut in the four-year-old geldings’ maiden.
The French-bred Speed Davis, a Spider Flight-sired half-brother to the British Grade 2-winning hurdling mare Violin Davis, out of an own-sister to former Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Klairon Davis, edged into a narrow advantage with James Walsh after three out.
Major Barry was mounting a renewed effort to challenge when falling two out and Speed Davis was then closely attended to by Secrecies Of Stone only for Derek O’Connor’s mount to exit at the last.
The Monbeg Syndicate-owned Speed Davis was duly left clear to beat The Village Way by 11 lengths.
Horse to Follow
Imperial Chief (P. C. O’Connor): ON the afternoon that saw Davy Russell retiring at Thurles, it was fitting that Pat O’Connor, who supplied the Youghal ace with his very first winner Spanish Castle at Tallow on February 7th 1999, introduced this homebred five-year-old in the adjacent hunts maiden. The son of Arcadio led to before two out and, while ultimately finishing third, he should effortlessly make his mark in the new year.