THE Andrew McNally-bred St Denis’s Well takes pride of place this week as the Famous Name gelding won at both Navan on Saturday and at the Molson Coors Race Day at Down Royal on Tuesday.

The six-year-old is trained in Co Meath by the Co Downs’ former huntsman Ian Donoghue and was partnered to both wins by Jack Kennedy in the colours of the Declans Bar Syndicate.

The chesnut is the fourth of seven recorded foals, only two of whom were named, out of the unraced Indian Haven mare Annie Greene, a half-sister to My Tent Or Yours out of a winning half-sister to the once Tullyraine House-based Conduit.

Other locally-bred National Hunt winners in the period under review include the Neville Reid-bred five-year-old Nickelforce (Workforce – Nickel, by Presenting), who landed the extended two and a half-mile handicap hurdle at Plumpton on Monday, and the Danny Doran-bred six-year-old Valens Bruyee (Sageburg – The Right Thing, by Generous) who won the two-mile novices’ hurdle at Chepstow on Wednesday. Both bay geldings were recording their first successes.

On the flat, the Steph Hollinshead-trained Pepsi Cat brought up a hat-trick, and recorded her fifth career success, when landing the five-furlong handicap at Newcastle on Friday last. The five-year-old Tamayuz mare was bred by Brian and Ann Marie Kennedy out of Music Pearl, a winning half-sister to Haami (by Nashwan) being out of Oumaldaaya who was champion three-year-old filly in Italy in 1992.

We noted that Mark O’Hare withdrew his December Dromahane maiden winner Madame Masque from today’s Tattersalls Cheltenham Sale while also noting that one of his former charges, Spindleberry, won on her second start for Willie Mullins, her first over hurdles, at Fairyhouse on Wednesday.

O’Hare saddled the now six-year-old Policy Maker bay to win the same Dromahane maiden in December 2022 on her only start between the flags. Spindleberry was ridden that day by Noel McParlan while it was Deckie Lavery who partnered Madame Masque to victory.

Thurles trip suits Ferns Lock

THE weather, particularly in Britain, didn’t help of course but it was a quiet week for Northern Ireland trainers with just the one winner, Ferns Lock, in the concluding hunters’ chase at Thurles on Sunday.

The seven-year-old Telescope gelding scored by eight lengths and five and a half-lengths from the Dara McGill-ridden Romeo Magico and the Stephen Connor-partnered, Stuart Crawford-trained Wowsham.

Despatched as the 8/15 favourite, the Barry O’Neill-ridden Ferns Lock is trained for Belfast’s Ray Nicholas by David Christie who had no other runners last week. Seven days earlier he had saddled Ramillies to win a ladies’ open at Turtulla.

Since being purchased by Christie for £60,000 at the Tattersalls Cheltenham Festival Sale in 2022, to which he was consigned as a once-raced winner, Ferns Lock has landed three more point-to-point races and, following Sunday’s victory, four hunters’ chases.

At Down Royal’s Boxing Day meeting, the bay failed to reward his supporters when beaten half a length into second by Its On The Line.

On the owners’ front, there was a further reason for the Derby Bar Syndicate to celebrate following the success of their Karl Thornton-trained, Donagh Meyler-ridden Coco Kolada in the Pravha Handicap Hurdle at Down Royal’s Molson Coors Race Day on Tuesday.

This was a first win on his sixth start for the 2018 Affinisea gelding for whom Brian Smyth gave €22,000 at the 2021 Land Rover Sale at Goffs.

At time of writing, Coco Kolado, along with the Syndicate’s Thornton-trained pair Where’s Frankie and Mighty Oak Lad, were entered up for this weekend.

Quail keeps both fires burning

BETWEEN two meetings in Ireland last Sunday and a similar number in Britain on the same day, I could only find one winner with local connections and that was at Ballinagore where Toni Quail landed the winners’ of two on De Nordener.

The eight-year-old Ocovango gelding is trained by Sam Curling at whose Skehanagh Stables, near Cashel, Quail is based. “I get home some weekends when we aren’t racing but we’re in the busy season at the moment so I probably won’t be up for a while,” said the Downpatrick native whose win came on her fifth ride of the campaign.

During the summer, Quail reverted to eventing and made four competitive appearances with her own Irish Sport Horse mare Wellan Summertime, frustratingly finishing second on all four starts.

The combination rounded off their season in late August at the inaugural Lisgarvan international where they filled the runner-up slot in the CCI3*-L behind British Olympian Laura Collett (another event rider associated with racing) and Fetiche Des Rouges. “I plan to move the mare up to four-star this year,” said Quail.

Tyrella kicks of spring season

THE second half of the 2023/’24 point-to-point season in the Northern Region commences today with the first of the East Down spring meetings at Tyrella.

As there was no comparable fixture 30 years ago, local trainers had to go further afield in search of winners with the closest of three meetings that weekend being the Fingal Harriers’ point-to-point at Fairyhouse racecourse on Sunday.

While there were placings on the day for John Bright, Brian Hamilton, Paul McMahon and Kevin Ross, there were no northern-ridden or trained winners on the card. This despite the fact that all races, bar the opening adjacent hunts’ contest, were divided resulting in 11 races; division two of the concluding Gowla mares’ maiden qualifier “was abandoned by the Stewards because of failing light”. On the same day, there were 10 races at Lisgarvan and a mere eight at Carrigtwohill.


It was a fairly miserable day at Tyrella on Saturday, January 31st 2004, when the five and six-year-old geldings’ maiden and the seven-year-old and upwards geldings’ maiden for novice riders were divided.

Only two local riders were on target that afternoon, Leo Gracey who landed the eight-runner open on Bellaney Lady (who won five point-to-points in total and two hunters’ chases), and Aaron Stronge who claimed the five and six-year-old mares’ maiden on the newcomer Rosiehaveareef.

In 2014, the first of the East Down meetings was held on Saturday, February 8th, when the six-race card opened with a five and six-year-old mares’ maiden where only four of the 16 starters finished.

The race was won by Patsy’s Benefit whose rider, Jason McKeown, recorded a double in the older mares’ maiden on Lusey Rocks.

There were wins also for local riders Ben Crawford, Michael McConville and William Thompson and for Co Wexford’s Barry O’Neill who landed the open on The Last Derby who was trained by David Christie for Ray Nicholas and the late Rodney Watson.