LAST Saturday’s Co Clare Hunt fixture held at a blustery Quakerstown saw 2022/2023 joint southern champion rider Chris O’Donovan partner his 100th winner between the flags.

The 2015/2016 champion under-21 rider O’Donovan achieved the notable feat aboard Tom Keating’s Chancernotadancer (4/5 - 4/6 favourite) in the five-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden.

An enterprising O’Donovan sent the daughter of Malinas to the head of affairs after the fifth fence and she only had newcomer Prophet Squeeze for company after the third last.

Finding generously in the straight, the second-timer had readily brushed aside the challenge of Toni Quail’s mount when that opponent fell at the final fence leaving the Michael Phillips-bred bay to come home alone.

“This is a mare we’ve always liked. She was unlucky to unseat first time out at Borris House this time last year,” stated Keating.

“She got sick shortly after and we had to leave her off for the spring. The time off probably did her no harm and she’ll make a grand chaser.”

On what proved to be a difficult afternoon for the half-dozen bookmakers present, local rider Derek O’Connor got favourite backers off to the best possible start when steering Walter Connors’ homebred Half Past Tipsy (6/4 - evens favourite) to success in the four-year-old mares’ maiden.

Trained by Sam Curling, last season’s Rathcannon debut-fourth Half Past Tipsy took over up front from Geturguccion on the downhill run to the fourth fence.

Thereafter, there proved to be little change in the order as the winning daughter of Muhtathir found plenty close home to contain the persistent challenge of Geturguccion by a cosy two and a half-lengths.

“This is a lovely filly. We expected her to do that today and she looks to have improved again over the summer. I’d say she’s most likely be on the market now,” reflected Curling.

Colin Bowe introduced another smart-looking prospect in what appeared a most competitive four-year-old geldings’ maiden as Country Park (2/1 - 3/1) bravely came out on top in a most dramatic conclusion to the eight-runner contest.

Never far from front rank under Barry O’Neill, the Walk In The Park gelding appeared to have plenty on his plate as the Rob James-ridden Maximum Offers made the best of his way home after two out.

However, Country Park came home with a wet sail in the home straight, and in spite of blundering at the final fence, somehow managed to reel-in Maximum Offers on the short run-in to oblige by a head.

It is now likely that Country Park, the first produce of a half-sister to Willie Mullins’ top-class hurdler and flat performer Wicklow Brave, will be sold.

Foxhunters ambitions for Mulcahy and Woldridge

LAST season’s Troytown Chase runner-up and John Durkan Memorial Chase-third Lifetime Ambition (1/8 favourite) took centre stage in the three-runner ladies’ open as he sauntered to a most straightforward success under Susie Doyle.

Confirming the positive impression he created with his Ballycrystal open triumph last month, the Linda Mulcahy and Mary Woldridge-owned eight-year-old appeared in a different league to his pair of rivals as he inflicted an ultra-cosy, front-running, five-length defeat on Plan Of Attack.

“That was ideal for him. He’ll come on again from that and is actually giving a bit of a blow there,” said winning-handler Pat Doyle.

“We’ll look for another open for him next and we have the Aintree Foxhunters in the back of our minds for him.”

Enniskerry, Co Wicklow-handler Riceal Dunne does very well with her select string and she made her first runner of the season a winning one as debutant The Pooka (6/4 - 2/1) claimed the five-year-old geldings’ maiden in the hands of Johnny Barry.

Bred by the victorious handler’s sister Catríona Tully, the Stylebawn Syndicate-owned bay was engaged in a good tussle with runner-up Tory Hill from the second from home and with little separating the duo at the last, The Pooka forged ahead close home to oblige by a neck.

“We couldn’t be happier with that. He’s shown us plenty at home but they still have to go and do it. Hopefully he’ll head on to a sale now,” disclosed Dunne, who sent out The Pooka’s half-brother Hot Rod Lincoln, a subsequent Fontwell maiden hurdle winner for Harry Fry, to claim a Corbeagh House maiden two seasons ago.

Saffron Hill dominates in curtain closer

THE concluding six-year-old and upwards geldings’ maiden, enhanced with an INHSC Bonus, had a total prize fund of €2,550 and here Mallow Co Cork rider Alan O’Sullivan was once again seen to good effect aboard the Marie Harding-handled Saffron Hill (4/5 favourite).

A fine third on his debut at Damma House just shy of two weeks previously, Declan O’Keeffe’s homebred Mahler gelding headed long-time leader Walk Easy approaching the final bend and duly powered clear up the run-in to account for the Thomas O’Connor-partnered Crouching Tiger by in excess of 18 lengths.

“That’s lovely as this is the first horse Declan has had with me and Declan has his half-brother at home too,” outlined the winning trainer Harding afterwards.

“Alan is a great rider, who has been very lucky for me so it’s nice to get the season off to a good start with him again.”

Horse to Follow

Geturguccion (D. Doyle) An excellent third in Loughanmore last April, this good-looking daughter of Getaway stepped forward from that initial experience to chase home Half Past Tipsy in the younger mares’ maiden. Her two ultra-promising efforts to date suggest her turn shouldn’t be long in coming before she progresses to the track.