SPRING was in the air at Punchestown on Saturday with blue skies and warm temperatures greeting spectators and they also saw a potentially top-class sort make a winning debut in the four-year-old geldings’ maiden.

Ittack Blue (3/1 - 6/1), a son of Coastal Path, put up a most impressive display here to win by 16 lengths from the Colin Bowe-trained Waspy.

The winner, who is both trained and owned by Matthew Flynn O’Connor, tracked the leaders early on under Brian Lawless before he shot to the front before the last, to win going away at the line. It was an eighth winner of the season for O’Connor and a 22nd for the winning rider.

Lawless said: “He travelled really well and loved the ground. He quickened up very smartly and put the race to bed quickly. His homework has always been good so we were expecting a big run.”

The five and six-year-old geldings’ maiden was divided, with the first division going the way of the pillar-to-post scorer, Lock Out (10/1 – 5/1).

The recent Monksgrange fourth was sent straight to the front under James Kenny and the pair never saw another rival as they ran out five-length winners over the Ellmarie Holden-trained favourite Hidalgo Des Bordes. The winner is trained in Co Wexford by Kenny’s father Liam.

“He had a nice first run in Monksgrange when Benny Walsh wasn’t too hard on him,” commented the winning rider of the Thomas Brennan-owned five-year-old. z“I went a good gallop – I was half wondering whether I had gone too quick. When I turned in, he found plenty and he hit the line like a smart horse. He’ll be sold now.”

Captains’ tactics

The second division saw another all-the-way winner in the shape of Captains Road (4/1 – 3/1), after he benefited from an excellent Harley Dunne ride.

The son of Doyen had the field well stacked with a circuit to race but Dunne quickly kicked away from the third last, gaining six lengths on them and they couldn’t peg him back from that point.

The Denis Murphy-trained and owned winner scored by two lengths at the line from the Cormac Doyle-trained Henhouse. Dunne said, of the five-year-old: “I didn’t make enough use of him the last day. I’m not sure whether it was the jockey’s fault or the trainer’s instructions. We changed tactics today. He jumped savage, quickened into the straight and had the race to put to bed at the third last.”

Visioman a real revelation to Halsall team

THE featured open contest saw A Rated seeking his fifth success of the campaign but the son of Flemensfirth couldn’t fend off the fast-finishing Visioman (10/1 – 8/1) and Troy Walsh. The winning son of Vision D’Etat, who runs in the colours of Nathalie Halsall, was never far from the pace and only managed to put his head in front after the last to win by a length from A Rated.

The winner is trained in Athy by north west of England native Ben Halsall, who was also recording his first success as a handler.

“I’m delighted,” said Halsall. “He ran a couple of weeks ago in Oldcastle but he probably just needed the run and the ground was a bit softer than he would have liked. We came here today with nicer ground but it’s a bit of a shock that he has won. Troy gave him a fantastic ride – he’s a seriously good jockey. That’s my first winner and my second ever runner. He’s the only horse I have in training.”

The confined hunt farmers’ race is a standing dish at the Kildare Foxhounds meeting and this year’s edition saw Peter Maher claim the spoils for a third time.

The recent Bishopscourt Cup second Alpha Male (1/1 – 4/5 favourite) raced in second throughout before Barry O’Neill squeezed him through on the inside approaching the last to lead, with the pair scoring by four lengths from the Peter Cribbin-trained debutant Chateau Elan.

“He had the form to do that,” said O’Neill of the Valerie Maher-owned gelding. “He can be a little bit quirky but everything fell right for him today. The plan wasn’t to go up the inside in the straight because the ground is pretty cut up there but the gap came so I had to chance it.”

Pearlofflorida puts in professional run

THE concluding older mares’ maiden saw the form horse, Pearlofflorida (6/1 – 4/1), run out a game two-length winner after a good battle with Flyingatfifty up the straight. The daughter of Altruistic was always prominent under Paul O’Neill with the pair hitting the front on the turn for home and staying on well after the last. The winner is trained by Shane Broderick and owned by Joseph Murray.

“She had two good runs before this,” said the winning rider. “She’s learning the whole time. She missed the second last but she jumped very well. She got to the front and pricked her ears thinking she had enough done but there was plenty left in her.”

The opening mares’ maiden saw champion handler Colin Bowe declare two runners and it was the seemingly lesser fancied of the pair, Chosen Hero (7/2 – 4/1) who ran out a good winner under James Kenny.

The winning daughter of Flemensfirth, who had finished third on debut at Dromahane earlier this month, made most to score by five lengths from the Denis Murphy-trained Theatrical Light. Bowe said of the Thomas Meagher-owned winner: “She’s a grand horse and built on her first run at Dromahane. She’ll probably go to the sales now.”

Horse To Follow:

Yournotwearingthat (P.J. Rothwell): The daughter of Sans Frontieres finished a never nearer third in the concluding older mares’ maiden on debut. She looks a sure-fire maiden winner in waiting on this evidence.