THE Cork and Waterford action commenced last Sunday in the form of the Duhallow – Kanturk meeting at Dromahane and the David Christie-trained Ferns Lock indicated that he’s likely to be a dominant force in the hunter chase division this season by destroying the opposition on his return to the fray in the non-graded winners’ open.

Ferns Lock (2/1 - 5/2 favourite), who recorded the most prestigious of his three consecutive hunter chase victories last term in the Tetretema Cup at Gowran Park in March, was soon positioned at the head of affairs and the six-year-old gave an assured round of fencing in front.

The winning son of Telescope was clearly travelling best on the run to two out and, with the final fence bypassed, he stormed clear to beat the former 133-rated chaser Dinny Lacey by a widening eight and a half lengths.

The recent Moira scorer Wowsham meanwhile more than acquitted himself by securing the minor honours, a further three lengths adrift of the victorious British-bred that represents long-standing points supporter Ray Nicholas.

There was a stewards’ inquiry called as it transpired that the field were waved around the incorrect side of the bypassed last fence on the second circuit. There was no alteration to the result though.

The winning Leginn House Stables’ handler remarked of Ferns Lock: “There’s loads to work on as he was carrying plenty of weight today. That’s tough ground out there for a horse that’s only 85% fit and he’ll hopefully now go for the Down Royal hunter chase over Christmas.”

Two winners

Ferns Lock’s rider Barry O’Neill was the only rider to partner two winners and the reigning champion initiated his brace aboard Colin Bowe’s Moon Over Mexico (2/1 - 5/2), who dead-heated for victory with the Noel Glynn-owned/trained Wepushourlucksofar (6/1 - 8/1) in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.

Wepushourlucksofar, a creditable sixth in a vintage Dromahane contest won by Double Digits in April, was always on the pace and he led until fractionally overtaken by recent Moira runner-up Moon Over Mexico at the last.

The latter though blundered here, handing the initiative back to Wepushourlucksofar. Moon Over Mexico in turn rallied to tremendous effect inside the final 50 yards and he joined Eoin Mahon’s mount literally on the line with the judge awarding a dead-heat between the pair.

Glynn indicated that Wepushourlucksfar, a €13,000 Goffs Land Rover sale graduate, will now be sold.

It’s also likely that the Milestone Bloodstock Ltd-owned Moon Over Mexico, a half-brother to his trainer’s recent Tattersalls Farm four-year-old mares’ maiden winner Honky Tonk Highway, will be seen in new colours when running again.Proceedings concluded with the five-year-old and upwards adjacent hunts maiden and former hurdler Nibbles (6/4 - 5/2 joint-favourite) routed the opposition by sauntering home under his handler Turlough O’Connor.

Nibbles, who finished fifth off a mark of 91 in a two and a quarter mile Clonmel handicap hurdle back in February, had to be called upon for an effort to pick up the running after the fourth last.

The son of Westerner though was clearly in command from three out and he dismissed American Hero by 17 lengths in the silks of The Nibbles Partnership. Nibbles could now contest the two and a half mile maiden hunters’ chase at Clonmel in January.

Elliott’s winning machine

GORDON Elliott, fresh from his remarkable 11 winners over the previous two days at Down Royal, maintained his rich vein of form by sending out newcomer Patter Merchant (5/2 - 7/2 co-favourite) to oblige under Harry Swan in the four-year-old geldings’ maiden.

The Crocodile Pockets Syndicate-owned Patter Merchant, a son of Walk In The Park who is an own-brother to Henry Daly’s smart three-time track winner Bowenspark, always travelled well and he overtook Moon Phases after the second last. The €75,000 Goffs Land Rover sale graduate appeared set for a comfortable success when sweeping into a three-length advantage on the flat. However, he then edged right-handed over 75 yards out which enabled runner-up Trasna Na Pairce to close to a length and a half. Elliott’s representative Caitriona Bolger, a barn manager at Cullentra House, reported of Patter Merchant: “He’s a nice horse that has always been doing everything righ.”

David O’Brien’s newcomer Roxhill Roise (4/1 - 5/1) displayed a clean pair of heels to her rivals in the five-year-old mares’ maiden. The hooded Roxhill Roise, a daughter of Getaway that represents the Ballyragget-based Cairde Gaoil Syndicate, came from off the pace with Simon Cavanagh to lead after two out and she then survived a slightly anxious moment at the final fence to account for Theatre Light by five lengths. Handler O’Brien indicated that she could now run in a bumper.

Northern Air looks bright prospect

THE Gary Murphy-trained newcomer Northern Air (5/1 - 7/1) hinted that a bright track career awaits by coming home as she pleased in the four-year-old mares’ maiden.

Northern Air, a physically-imposing daughter of Vendangeur tracked Culligran in second spot until going for home three out under Shane O’Rourke.

The favourite Neon Diamond held every chance from two out, but the winner was possessing all the aces on the run to the final fence. At the post, she had four lengths to spare over Neon Diamond.

Cudgley Stables operator Murphy, who started off the previous afternoon’s Aintree novice hurdle runner-up Magical King in points last season, remarked of his partner Cassie Parle’s Northern Air in whom Benny and Jenny Walsh also hold an interest: “She’s a gorgeous big filly that’s a great mover, loved her when we saw her. She’ll now go to the sales.”

Horse to Follow

Moon Phases (R. Tector): A homebred son of Ol’ Man River, this white-faced newcomer was disputing the running when erring two out in the four-year-old geldings’ maiden.

While beaten seven lengths into fourth spot, he still showed enough to suggest that he holds definite track potential.