THERE were some notable performances at Sunday’s New Year’s Day Lisgoold fixture, staged under the auspices of the United Hunt at Ballindenisk, and the Gearóid O’Loughlin-owned and trained Native Speaker impressed by making a triumphant career debut in the truly run five-year-old geldings’ maiden.
The opening leg of a double for Barry O’Neill, Native Speaker (5/2 – 9/4 favourite) was quickly positioned at the head of affairs and he jumped soundly throughout.
Denemethy as his closest pursuer virtually throughout until the patiently ridden Drumcliff Bay moved second on the run to the penultimate of the 12 obstacles.
However, Drumcliff Bay was some four lengths adrift and making no impression when falling at the final fence.
It was Denemethy that then occupied the runner-up slot, 20 lengths adrift of the winning son of Court Cave, with the pair being the only finishers from the nine runners that set out.
With O’Loughlin absent due to the death of his grandmother Helen O’Loughlin, the Co. Clare native’s partner Rebecca Traynor remarked of their Native Speaker: “This is our second winner of the season and Barry [O’Neill] loved him when he schooled him during the week.”
Native Speaker was acquired for €34,000 at the 2021 Derby Sale and his dam Odonimee (by Idris) won four races in addition to finished third in a Grade 3 chase at Thurles for Lar Butler while she is a half-sister to Grade 3 chase winner A Decent Excuse.
O’Neill doubled up aboard Richard Rath’s seasonal debutante Larkfield Legacy (2/1 - 5/2 joint-favourite) in the six-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden.
The previously seven-time placed Larkfield Legacy, who was destined to finish second in this same race 12 months ago only to exit at the final fence, was sent to the front well before two out.
The winning nine-year-old, owned and bred by James Brennan from Killann, was always travelling marginally better than runner-up Nancy Till thereafter with a length the winning margin.
Larkfield Legacy, who also has previous experience over fences, could now return to the racetrack.
Totowolfe (3/1 - 6/1) made his first start for handler Ian McCarthy a winning one by landing the closing six-year-old and upwards geldings’ maiden under a supremely confident Jack Hendrick.
Having pulled up on his two starts last term, Totowolfe was still only seventh of the nine remaining runners as Knock On Wood led the field away from the fourth-last.
The British-bred, a €24,000 foal purchase that hails from the same family as former Galway Plate winner Sir Frederick, made smooth progress on the run to two out and he took the measure of runner-up Champagne Spark approaching the final fence to oblige by two and a half lengths.
“He’s a lovely big scopey horse by the right sire in Blue Bresil and I’d imagine that he will be sold now,” said McCarthy of Totowolfe, shared by Galwegian brothers John and Niall Bleahen.
THIS fixture is one that will live long in the memory of Emily Costello from Quin as the first-year UCD agricultural science student partnered an initial career winner aboard Keep Me Posted (5/4 - 11/8 favourite), whom her uncle Tom Costello handles for her mother Claire, in the winners of two.
Keep Me Posted, having made an excellent return to the fray by finishing second to subsequent Limerick hunters chase winner Ultimate Optimist at Quakerstown on December 4th, tracked Aghmorough Bridge until picking up the running at half-way.
The son of Shirocco then gave an assured round of fencing and, having been spring-heeled when already in command at the last, he forged clear on the flat to account for main market-rival Busty Boy by five lengths. The six-year-old gelding is likely to be kept pointing for the foreseeable future.
Emily Costello’s father Dermot recalled that her elder sister Laura also recorded her initial career success aboard Keep Me Posted at Ballycahane last season.
Owner-breeder Linda Twomey from Liscarroll is another that will allude to this meeting as being a red-letter occasion as Another Day Out (7/4 - 2/1), the first racehorse to represent her, won the five-year-old mares’ maiden.
The Marie Harding-trained Another Day Out, a fine fifth on her return to action at Lisronagh in November, was foot-perfect throughout for talented 5lb claimer and the daughter of Ocovango was closely attended to by Micks Jet when throwing the faster leaps at the final two fences.
This proved crucial in the final analysis as Another Day Out held on to beat Micks Jet by a diminishing short-head.
THE Michael Winters-owned/trained Chatham Street Lad (4/5 – 1/1 favourite), a former seven-time track winner that finished third to A Plus Tard in the 2021 running of the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock, had little difficulty in recording a first-time points success under 19-year-old Andy Burke Ott in the novice riders open.
Chatham Street Lad came from off the pace to finish a respectable fourth behind Lord Schnitzel on his points debut here at Ballindenisk last month, but the son of Beneficial was bounced out in front upsides Dashing Perk here.
The pair disputed the running until the winning 11-year-old edged into a couple of lengths advantage with six fences remaining. Jumping impeccably as one would naturally expect of a former 156-rated chaser, Chatham Street Lad possessed all the aces from two out and crossed the line with a comprehensive one and a half lengths to spare over fellow veteran Dashing Perk.
The 14-year-old Killultagh Vic, having won his previous start at Quakerstown on Easter Sunday, was far from disgraced as he returned a further one and a half lengths adrift in third spot.
“He’s a horse that we’ve had to do a fair bit of minding on and the run here the last day brought him on a lot, “said Winters of Chatham Street Lad. “It turned him inside out really and we’ll run him away in another few opens.”
Champagne Spark (R. Hickey): A half-brother to Gordon Elliott’s Grade 1-placed hurdler Hollow Games, this son of Shantou stepped forwards from his fifth-placed return effort at Boulta in November by finishing second in the six-year-old and upwards maiden. He should atone in due course.