DOUBLES for handler Willie Murphy and local rider Rob James brightened up a wet and murky Ballycrystal as the Ballinagore Harriers held their annual point-to-point.

Persistent rain in the preceding 24 hours ensured that stamina was at a premium. Carlow-based Willie Murphy has his string in excellent form of late and he enjoyed a mid-card double to move him on to the five-winner mark for the season.

Miss Drussell (5/2 - 7/2) got the ball rolling with an easy 20-length demolition of her five other rivals in the older mares’ maiden.

The daughter of Flemensfirth has been ultra-consistent, having been placed on all three point starts this season. Under regular pilot Pa King and in the handler’s own colours, she led from flagfall and virtually had the race sewn up from three out, easily beating the only other finisher in Mini Fortune.

“She is a good, fun mare. We’ll sell her if we can, she would be a lovely mare for somebody in England,” Murphy said. “If we don’t sell, we may find a winners’ race. Pa [King] gave her a great ride and he owns half of her.”

Delight for Dashing Dames

Murphy brought up his brace in the older geldings’ maiden as Pour Me A Double (4/1) under a fine Moira McElligott ride was two and a half lengths too good for the long-time leader Ahaknowyerself.

The Pour Moi gelding had finished third in the older maiden at Tinahely a fortnight earlier, and renewed rivalry with Ahaknowyerself (fifth then) and Lessaidthebetter (UR). It was this trio who went on to fill the first three placings, as Pour Me Double was produced to lead before the last and stayed on strongly in the colours of The Dashing Dames Syndicate.

“The Dashing Dames is made up of my wife, my sister and three of their friends - this is their first horse,” reported a delighted Murphy. “He promised to be a very good horse a couple of years ago but things went badly wrong. He improved from Tinahely and just might improve again. He had ulcers, I think they were his issue and eventually we got them sorted.” Pour Me A Double was giving Moira McElligott a 20th career winner.

Hallers back on track

The card opened with nine runners in the five-year-old mares’ maiden which saw local handler Cormac Doyle send out a winner with his first runner of the season in Von Hallers (3/1).

The good-looking daughter of Presenting was having her second start here and, under Jack Hendrick, had to dig deep to see off the persistent challenge of Caught A Vibe and Simon Cavanagh in a tight finish to win by a head.

A €58,000 store purchase, she led before the last and is now sales-bound for the Monbeg Farm Partnership.

Doyle stated: “She ran at Monksgrange [when pulled-up behind Jenny Wyse], but Rob [James] was never happy and she scoped wrong afterwards. We let her off and she is twice the mare since she came back in. She will go to the sales; she has a lovely pedigree.”

Wingmen takes flight to register an impressive debut victory

ROB JAMES moved on to the 20-winner mark for the season courtesy of a double. Teaming up with Gordon Elliott, who is operating with a 43% strike rate in points, his first winner of the afternoon came thanks to the impressive Wingmen (6/4 favourite) in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.

The good-looking son of Kayf Tara - out of a three-time winning Flemensfirth dam - had cost the Crocodile Pockets Syndicate €88,000 at the Tattersalls Derby Sale and put in the most impressive of debuts here.

Sent into the lead at halfway, he galloped resolutely to the line to score by an easy 12 lengths from fellow debutants Backtonormal and Moorefields in the fastest time of the day.

Simon McGonagle, representing the absent Elliott, indicated that we will next see the gelding in the sales ring, adding: “That was great. He was doing everything right at home, working well, so I’m delighted to see that.”

Pepper too hot for rivals

James completed his brace in the confined maiden when sending local punters home happy thanks to a victory aboard the Donnchadh Doyle-trained Great Pepper (1/1 favourite).

Doyle was saddling his first winner at his local track as the French-bred son of Great Pretender stepped forward from his debut when pulled up. He scored snugly by four lengths from the Denis Murphy-trained pair of Flash Du Pistolet and Sergeant Moss.

“He will probably head for a winners’ race in a couple of weeks,” Doyle stated of the Monbeg Syndicate-owned five-year-old.

“He didn’t run too bad the first day at Lisronagh, it was tacky that day but it’s a lot looser today. He could have jumped the last there and finished fourth so he ran alright. He’ll contest a few winners’ races and we’ll see where we head from there.”

Kenny family collect with in-form Gray Rock

JUST four runners went to post for the winners of two contest and it was recent Borris House winner Gray Rock (9/4) who took the spoils for the father and son team of Liam and James Kenny.

Making almost all under a fine front-running ride in the conditions, Kenny made sure to keep enough up his sleeve for the finish.

Hard as favourite Garcon Dargent and Jack Hendrick tried, the Noeleen Kenny-owned Rail Link gelding was not for passing and prevailed by three quarters of a length to give the Craanford, Co Wexford family a memorable win. It was also the rider’s first success of the season.

“He took a while to get his head in front. He had been unlucky as we always happened on one!” Kenny recalled as Gray Rock had to settle for a trio of second-placed efforts before his breakthrough win. “He is for sale but if we don’t sell him, we’ll continue on and pick a winners of two for him.”

Horse to follow

Moorefields (L. Doyle): This Mahler gelding performed creditably on debut when third to the impressive Wingmen. He cost connections €11,000 as a foal and was always prominent, looking destined for second before weakening close home. He should be capable of delivering a maiden success.