SUBSTANTIAL rain in the preceding days resulted in testing conditions for horses and humans alike at last Sunday’s Scarteen Hunt meeting held at Comea.

One rider who will have been particularly happy that the track passed an early morning inspection on race day is 20-year-old local David Russell as he enjoyed his first-ever success in the saddle aboard Albaquirky (2/1 - 3/1) in the concluding six-year-old and upwards geldings’ maiden.

Handled by Russell’s employer, Enda Bolger, former track performer Albaquirky, owned and bred by Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare-located Charlie O’Reilly, rallied well for pressure in the home straight and leading shortly before the last fence, edged out newcomer The Last Minute by a length and a half.

Hailing from nearby Tipperary town, Russell reflected: “I’m delighted to get a winner at my local track and that both Mam and Dad are here too.

“I’ve been with Enda for the last couple of seasons and I can’t thank him enough for all the experience he’s given me. I’ve learned so much from him. Hopefully, I can get more rides in the coming weeks and months now.”

Doyle double

Holycross, Co Tipperary-trainer Pat Doyle recorded a double at the fixture for the second consecutive year and he kick-started his afternoon by landing the opening four-year-old maiden with Youdecide (4/7 - 4/6 favourite).

Left further clear by the penultimate obstacle departure of the chasing Mr Blaketon, the Mahler gelding, a €28,000 acquisition from last year’s Derby Sale, showed a striking turn of foot under Pa King in the home straight to see off Shade Of Winter by three lengths.

“This lad has the makings of a nice horse. He’s a very straightforward horse with a lot of pace who should be suited by running over shorter trips on the track,” stated Doyle of his wife Mary’s Youdecide who is the fifth produce of a half-sister to the former Nicky Henderson-handled pair Rather Be and Sign Of A Victory.

Deserved success

Mary Doyle’s colours were back in the winner’s enclosure as Cicero Grimes (6/4) gained a deserved success in the adjacent maiden to bring up the Doyle family’s double.

Sent to the head of affairs from flag fall by Susie Doyle, last month’s Turtulla runner-up, was closely attended to by both Coffeys Forge and latterly favourite D’jo Dela Barriere.

With the latter sticking to his task well after two out under Josh Williamson, little separated the pair at the final fence, however Cicero Grimes, fitted with cheekpieces, fared best on the short run-in to oblige by a neck.

“He’d been threatening to do that for a while. He’s great to jump and does plenty around home with the younger horses. We will probably give him a little break now before coming back for a winners’ race,” said Doyle.

Cards fall in favour of Boyles Hill

PAT Doyle was indeed most unfortunate not to notch a hat-trick on the day as his second-timer Dixie Mafia came to grief at the final fence when clear in a dramatic conclusion to the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.

The fall of Pa King’s mount appeared to hand the initiative to his trailing fellow market-principal Powerofjet only for that rival to come down himself.

Harley Dunne’s Line Em Up then made the best of his way home under Tiernan Power, however, he was soon emitting distress signals allowing the Adam Leahy-ridden Boyles Hill (3/1 - 5/1) to get on top in the final strides and claim the spoils by a neck.

Handled by the absent Mick Goff, the Watar-sired Boyles Hill, a distant second to the same day’s Exeter bumper-winner Teeshan at Loughanmore in October, is now set to be sold.

Popular victory

A return to maiden hunter chase company is now in the offing for the John Gleeson-trained Boss Robin (5/2 - 5/4 favourite) following his most popular victory in the novice riders’ open lightweight.

A wide-margin winner of a confined maiden at this fixture 12 months ago and also second in a maiden hunters’ chase at Cork last April, the Aidan Archdeacon-owned bay dominated proceedings up front under first-time partner Andrew Burke Ott before showing a willing attitude late-on to see off the attentions of Joy Of Life by two lengths.

“He’s a grand horse that is very consistent. I’m delighted for his owners Aidan and Susan as they’re a pleasure to train for. Andrew was good and positive on him and we’ll look at Thurles in early March or Cork again over Easter for him now,” reported Gleeson.

Sophie set to try again for Gain Mares Final

THE nine bookmakers present had earlier suffered another significant reversal in the five-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden as the Mikey O’Connor owned, ridden and trained Sophie Gold (3/1 - 6/4 favourite) showed the benefit of her seasonal debut fifth at Turtulla last month.

Making all, the daughter of Multiplex was given the office by O’Connor on her approach to the home straight for the final time and last season’s Moig South-second overcame a final fence blunder as she readily dismissed Nellie Magic by five lengths.

“That was a very good performance, it’s great to get her back on track,” outlined O’Connor. “I rushed her after her good debut run in Moig South last year and then she pulled a hamstring in the Gain Mares Final at Ballynoe. The plan is to head back for that event again now with her.”

Horse to Follow

Dixie Mafia (P.M.J. Doyle): This imposing son of Sholokhov took a notable step forward from his Ballindenisk debut last month when all but winning the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.

Unlucky to exit at the final fence when holding an unassailable lead, he should easily make amends before graduating to a victorious track career.