A FOUR-timer for Barry O’Neill was the highlight of a six-race card as the Island Hunt held their meeting at a sunny Ballycrystal last Sunday, with the reigning champion giving his home crowd plenty to cheer about.

O’Neill kicked off the day with a win in the opening four-year-old maiden aboard exciting debutant Leaky Cauldron (2/1 - 5/4 favourite).

Teaming up with his boss Colin Bowe and wearing the black and green silks of Milestone Bloodstock, this bay son of Well Chosen was the subject of much talk beforehand.

Confidently ridden in a field of 12 starters, he cruised into second behind the pacesetting Cave Article before three out.

Quickly in command he sprinted clear before the last to record a snug and impressive five-length victory over the game Cave Article in second with the French-bred Jackstell back in third.

The winning handler, on crutches after recent surgery, reported: “He is a nice horse and had been showing us plenty. He was very good there and is an exciting type.”

A €42,000 Tattersalls May sale purchase by David Mullins, Leaky Cauldron is the first foal of Grange Hall, a dual-winning daughter of Flemensfirth and is from the immediate family of the very smart Celestial Wave, a multiple graded winner for Adrian Maguire.

Milestone double

The powerful Milestone Bloodstock, Bowe and O’Neill trio brought up a double for the outfit in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.

The Shantou gelding Big John Wayne (4/5 favourite) was a short order to confirm the promise he had shown on his debut at Borris House almost a year earlier when going in many notebooks with his penultimate fence fall as a likely future winner.

Content to make the running, he jumped impeccably throughout and although strongly pressed by Backinaction and John’s Dream from three out, they could find no way past and, in the end, he was a snug two and a half-length winner.

An imposing individual, he a half-brother to the listed placed Mr Josie Wales, who Bowe trained to win a Castletown-Geoghegan maiden back in 2019, and he will now head to the sales according to the handler who stated: “He jumps and stays and is going to make a lovely staying chaser.”

Fine ride

O’Neill gave the David O’Brien-trained Weir Lane (5/2) a fine ride to take the five and six-year-old mares’ maiden in the colours of British-based owner Mike Allen.

The daughter of Notnowcato had finished second in a Curraghmore maiden back in April, and fresh from a couple of mid-summer track runs, she was a cosy two and a half-length winner here having taken control of the race after the fifth fence.

Take A Hike was very well supported in the market and they were the pair that had it between them for the last mile, but hard as she might try Weir Lane was not for passing and was full value for her win.

A delighted O’Brien expects that she will have one more start between the flags before then continuing her track career in England for her current owners.

Rossbridge prevails in a driving finish

THE auction maiden for four-year-olds saw a field of 10 go post and it produced another locally-trained winner in the shape of Rossbridge (5/2 - 2/1) for handler Rob James in the colours of the Matchmaker Syndicate under Eoin Staples.

Having his third start, the son of Affinisea was building on a recent second at Loughrea and battled gamely to take the spoils, getting the better of a good battle with Good Cody and Dawn Supreme in a driving finish after the complexion of the race had changed when Stuntman Steve fell two out when holding a narrow advantage.

Craig Casey, representing the absent handler, reported: “He will head to the sales now and is a good solid horse. He had a good run the last day [at Loughrea] and bumped into a very decent horse. He stepped forward from that and is a nice type.”

The concluding race of the day went to Commander Of Ten (4/6 favourite) as he gave Barry O’Neill a fourth winner for the day, easily brushing aside seven rivals to score by three and a half lengths from Minella Staycation with Neat Locality a further 12 lengths back in third.

A second winner of the season for Aidan Fitzgearld and sporting the Cobajay syndicate colours, he was stepping forward from an opening day third at Castletown-Geoghegan.

Fitzgerald was absent, tending to runners at Umma House but outlined plans for the Doyen gelding, as he said: “I’m delighted with that and he’ll run away in winners’ races and hopefully end up in a banks race at Punchestown. He came from very good friends of mine Lynne and Angus Maclennan who are in the UK. The horses are in good form.”

Ambition stands out from the field

THE Ladies’ Open on the card had been won by The Storyteller 12 months ago and this year’s renewal saw yet another smart performer take the honours, as the former Jessica Harrington inmate Lifetime Ambition (7/4) made a winning return to the pointing fields.

The Linda Mulcahy and Mary Woldrige-owned Kapgarde gelding is now in the care of Pat Doyle, and partnered by his daughter Susie, he recorded an easy six-length victory over his six rivals.


Recent Castletown-Geoghegan scorer The Bosses Oscar was the market selection and he was the horse that put up the most resistance, but Lifetime Ambition, who took up the running after the seventh fence, never looked in any danger to continue the fine start to the season for connections.


Rated 158 at his peak, he will be a formidable opponent in the coming weeks and will likely target the ladies’ division as his trainer and a proud father explained: “That was a thrill. My heart is going stronger than if it was a four-year-old!!

“He is a lovely horse, and we are very thankful to the owners for letting us have him. We’ll campaign him on nice ground and he will run in those races that Susie can ride him.”

Horse to Follow

Backinaction (D.P. Murphy): The Soldier Of Fortune gelding was making his debut here and showed signs of greenness in the closing stage before being outstayed. This was a debut full of promise and the five-year-old is one for the notebook.