BROUGHSHANE in Co Antrim was the location for the final point-to-point of the 2021/22 northern season. It saw Barry O’Neill crowned champion in the region for the fourth time with an impressive tally of 17 winners.
It has been some season for the David Christie-trained Some Man (1/2-4/6 favourite) and the son of Beat Hollow recorded his fifth success of the campaign here to put himself at the top of the leading horses’ standings.
In a change of tactics, he was held up in rear by Rob James before hitting the front in effortless fashion after the third last.
The result was a mere formality at that point as he went on to score by two and a half lengths from the Alex Harvey-ridden Vis La Toi.
It was also the first leg of a concluding race double for Rob James on the day.
“They went some gallop and this would be the opposite to what he would like – it’s up and down and around and everything,” said Christie of the Ray Nicholas-owned winner.
“What can we say about him – he’s a class horse. He’s top of the leading horses’ table at the minute but there’s a whole stack of them there just behind. We’ll just see what happens. At this time of year, you don’t know what might happen one week from the next.
“He has been very consistent, looks really well and is happy. As long as he stays like that, we’ll keep going.”
Rob James brought up his double in the concluding older geldings’ maiden where the previously twice-raced Royal Juniper (4/1-5/1) ran out a cosy two-length winner over the Donnchadh Doyle-trained Viking’s Way.
The Tony Martin-trained son of Doyen raced in midfield early before James sent his rival to the front after the fourth and they never saw another rival from that point.
The winning rider said of the John Patrick Murphy-owned gelding: “He was a little bit keen early and they weren’t going much of a gallop, so I just let him roll to the front because I thought he was doing too much in behind.
“He settled away in front and loved it. He jumped like a buck and picked up well to the line. He’s a grand horse, going forward. He’s a massive, big horse and he’s just improving.”
The mares’ maiden on the card saw a field of eight face the starter and it was the only newcomer in the contest, A Law Of Her Own (4/1-6/1), who ran out a one-length winner from the Ross O’Sullivan-trained Isabella Bee.
The Matthew Flynn O’Connor-trained mare is a flat-bred daughter of Doyen and she used that flat speed to hit the front before the second last under Co Wicklow native Brian Lawless.
“She’s a flat-bred mare actually but she’s a gutsy, tough, genuine sort,” said Lawless of the mare whom the handler also owns. “I’m delighted to get that one and I imagine that she’ll be sold now.”
Doncaster beckons for Dennison duo
COLIN McKeever, Cormac Abernethy and Wilson Dennison brought up their own five-year-old geldings’ double in the second and third races.
Richhill (6/1-10/1) had two prior runs to his name, most recently when fifth at Loughanmore, but he improved on that effort here to score by a short-head from the Gordon Elliott-trained Zetabytte after a photo-finish was called.
The winner was always prominent under Abernethy and the pair were scoring in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden. McKeever said of the son of Presenting: “He has improved a good bit from his run at Loughanmore. He’ll improve again for that and all being well, he’ll go to Doncaster [Goffs UK Spring Sale next week]. He should get in on a wildcard now.”
The double was brought up in the five-year-old and upwards’ adjacent maiden as the Fame And Glory-sired newcomer Ballybentragh (3/1-4/1) ran out a length-and-a-half winner over the Stuart Crawford-trained Josies Dylan.
The winner was last approaching the straight but he showed a nice blend of speed and stamina to pass the whole field in the final couple of furlongs. It was a sixth success of the season for Abernethy and a seventh for McKeever, who said: “It’s great to see the horses running so well. Every horse that I have ran today was in a battle which is great to see.
“He’s a lovely horse. I had him in the five-year-old maiden too but I had it in my head that I would win that with the other horse (Richhill), which I did!
“I let him take his chance here as he’s a lovely, big raw horse. He’ll go to Doncaster too now. It might have been a confined race but it was a good contest. He won with a good bit in hand there.”
Kinbara comes late for the Crawfords
THE opening four-year-old maiden saw a competitive field of 12 go to post and the majority of them still held a chance at the second last.
It was the patiently-ridden Kinbara (3/1-4/1) who emerged from the pack after the last though to score under Ben Crawford, for his brother Stuart.
The winner was continuing the fine form of the Larne, Co Antrim-based Crawford brothers, with the Colin McKeever-trained Ballystone a further half-length back in second.
“They went quite quick but he jumps and he gallops well,” said the winning rider of the gelding whom he also owns.
“I was coming all the time. I missed the second last and the last, and I was just hoping that I would get there. I knew I was always coming and thankfully he got there in time. He galloped right through the line and in another 100 yards, he would have won by five lengths. I’m delighted with him. He’ll go to the sales now.”
Horse to Follow
Ballystone (C.S.McKeever) The smartly-bred debutant son of Shirocco ran a fine race to finish second in the opening four-year-old maiden and he should have little difficulty in going one place better next time out.