THERE was top-quality action right throughout last Saturday’s Stonehall Harriers-sanctioned seven-race card held at a sunny Ballysteen and fittingly local native Aidan Fitzgerald took the training honours when combining with rider Troy Walsh to register a double.

Fitzgerald, who originally hails from nearby Askeaton, and Walsh completed their brace as Queens Wish (3/1 - evens favourite) made a striking winning debut in the five-year-old mares’ maiden.

The daughter of Shantou, a €45,000 2022 Derby Sale-purchase always took the eye in-running under Walsh and having stormed to the front before the final fence duly accounted for fellow newcomer Somethingtosomeone by a widening six lengths.

“We think this lady could be very good. I’ve waited a couple of months and purposely kept her for here as I’ve always wanted to have a winner at this venue,” said Fitzgerald of the half-sister to 2017 Kerry National-hero Potters Point who was quickly added to the catalogue for last Thursday’s Goffs Punchestown Sale.

Earlier the duo had combined for success in the latter division of the four-year-old maiden as the Cobajay Syndicate-owned debutant Nadia’s Boy (5/1 - 4/1) ran out a somewhat fortuitous victor of the nine-runner affair.

Kept on strongly

The first-produce of the Flynn family’s Grade 3 novice hurdle-winning Just Janice appeared to capitalise on the final fence departure of the always prominent George’s Lad, and thereafter kept on strongly under Walsh to dismiss Jack Hoola by two and a half-lengths.

“This is a lovely young horse that was just ready to start off today. He’s actually owned by a client of Willie Mullins’ so he’ll get a good summer’s grass after this and head on to Closutton then,” outlined Fitzgerald of the son of Getaway.

Danesfort, Co Kilkenny-pilot Walsh was later denied a treble in the open as his mount Visioman had to settle for the runner-up berth as John O’Donovan’s Wise Move (4/5 - evens favourite) resumed winning ways.

The most-progressive Shirocco gelding, who commenced the season as a maiden, was produced by Joanna Walton to lead shortly before the final fence and ultimately recorded a two-length triumph to register his fourth career win.

“The plan was to make the running but credit to Joanna, when she saw the gallop that was on, she sat in behind them,” stated Chris O’Donovan, son of the successful owner/trainer.

“He’s been a great horse for us this year and may run in another open before possibly heading on to Doncaster to be sold.”

‘Smashing’ Sign Again gets off the mark

THE Robert Tector-owned and trained Sign Again (3/1 - 5/1) was also due to come under the hammer at Punchestown on Thursday evening after he claimed the opening division of the four-year-old maiden.

Settled in midfield early by Joey Dunne, the Lucky Speed-sired first-timer appeared to have fortune on his side as the penultimate fence claimed the leading pair of Cosmos D’Ainay and Burncourt Boy. Forging clear on the downhill run to the last, Sign Again, a close relation to 2021 Champion Chase-winner Put The Kettle On, was soon in command and hit the line four and a half lengths to the good over Karton Plein.

“That’s my first four-year-old winner and it’s great to get it. He’s a smashing young horse that came from his breeders, the Purcells in Co Kilkenny.

“His work has always been very good so it was nice to see him bring it to the track today,” observed Tector.

Upward trajectory

The Harry Kelly-handled Now So Jake (9/4 - 3/1) maintained his upward trajectory in the winners’ of two when doubling his seasonal tally. Bred and owned by John Palmer, the Mahler gelding, ridden by Pa King, took the measure of Nothingtodowithyou shortly after the second last and later bounded clear to outpoint Patrick Gleeson’s mount by six lengths.

“We’ve been waiting for a bit of nicer ground for this lad for a while and thankfully our patience has been rewarded. He probably wasn’t really suited by the track today but he’s classy and got the job done. If he’s not sold now, we will aim him at a bumper or maiden hurdle,” said Kelly of his January Turtulla-maiden scorer Now So Jake.

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford-rider Harry Goff was seen to good effect in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden when partnering the second winner of his career aboard his mother Catriona’s Way Down South (5-7/1).

Handled by the winning rider’s father Mick, the Ocovango gelding who had been an encouraging third to Rucker Road at Ballycrystal earlier in the month, benefitted from his young rider’s patient tactics to collar the front-running Newtown Rambler in the shadows of the post and oblige by half-a-length.

“I’m thrilled for Harry as he’s not only working hard in the yard at home but working hard on his riding with people like Derek O’Connor too. He got the horse into a lovely rhythm today and timed things to perfection,” reflected the winning handler.

Bilbery continues Cotter stellar season

BALLYNOE, Co Cork amateur Shane Cotter is experiencing a stellar initial campaign and he further bolstered his bid for the under-21 riders’ title when claiming the concluding six-year-old and upwards maiden aboard his employer Denis Murphy’s Fralimonti Bilbery (3/1 - 7/4 favourite).

Returning to action for the first time since finishing fourth at Tattersalls in late October, the six-year-old re-assumed command of the 14-runner contest with a circuit to race and powered away from promising first-timer Thisthatandd’other in the latter stages to score by a comprehensive 10 lengths.

It is now likely that the successful son of Montmartre will be aimed at a winners’ race.

Horse to Follow

Regards To Rose (E.C. McCarthy): This daughter of Fuisse was leading her rivals on the final circuit in the five-year-old mares’ maiden only to lose considerable ground when running off the bend after the third last.

Although forfeiting her winning chance after, the second-timer finished well late-on to secure third spot. She looks capable of landing a similar contest in the coming weeks.