At the new-look Kilossera course that was run on a left-handed oval circuit with a run-in of almost a furlong on a shoot to the finish line, Jamie Codd experienced an afternoon to savour by partnering three winners. The former champion experienced the best possible start to proceedings by landing Bridgie Terrie Pub & Restaurant five-year-old mares’ maiden aboard the Liam O’Brien-trained Portnablagh, one of four newcomers in the line-up.
Portnablagh, a daughter of Well Chosen, always travelled well in third spot as another first-timer Grangerosie cut out the running. The eventual winner edged ever closer from two out and she effortlessly picked up the running on the inner well before the final fence en-route to accounting for the likeable Grangerosie by eight lengths in the colours of her breeder Cliff Wilkinson from Killerk outside Fethard.
Two-horse handler O’Brien, who also operates in the vicinity of Fethard, said:” She’s a proper staying mare and Jamie gave her a serious ride, I’d imagine she will now go the sales."
Incidentally, Portnablagh’s Flemensfirth-sired dam Countess Trifaldi also won this same race back in 2005.
Donncha Duggan’s grey Pragmatic sprung a major surprise by returning to the coveted number one slot in the Tom Fleming, Equine Dentist five-year-old geldings’ maiden under Darragh Allen. The French-bred Pragmatic, an eighth-fence faller on his career debut at Templenacarriga four weeks earlier, disputed the running with Ballybreen until the latter cried enough after two out.
A potent danger soon emerged in the form of Kirkistown runner-up Always On The Ball and he closed to within a length before the final fence. That was however the nearest that he got as Pragmatic, a close relation to French Grade 1 hurdle winner Roll On Has that represents Conor Casey, lengthened on the flat to oblige by a comprehensive eight lengths.
“He’s a fair horse and I expected him to win in Templenacarriga," reported Duggan, who trains 11 horses at his Kilfinane base. “He will probably go to the sales now and I’m delighted for his owner Conor Casey who worked with me at John Kiely’s when we were both there a number of years ago.”
Denis Hickey’s homebred Rue Hill supplemented his success at Borris House last month by showing an electric turn of foot from the final fence in The Country Store (Conor Lannen) Open to see off his rivals in the hands of 19-year-old Sean O’Keeffe from Taghmon.
The 11-year-old Rue Hill, whose solitary track success came in a two and a half mile Limerick handicap hurdle in December 2014, took up the running four out and he then had Drawn N Drank as his closest pursuer until the latter gave way at the final fence. The Grade 1-placed chaser Morning Assembly then went second as the line approached, but Pat Fahy’s long-absent 11-year-old was still some one and a half lengths at the death.
“We will give him a break now and probably go for another open in a month’s time, “was former amateur rider Hickey’s post-race comment.
The Harry Kelly-trained Gills Pet, who was travelling well when badly hampered and forced out of the race five out on her debut at Boulta in November, brought up the middle leg of the Codd three-timer in the Murrays Family Pharmacy six-year-old-and-upwards mares’ maiden.
Gills Pet was always well positioned and she went to the front after two out. She was clearly containing runner-up Valcourt when almost coming to grief with a three-length advantage at the final fence. Codd, to his credit, sat tight as the winning daughter of Flemensfirth got back on an even keel to dismiss Valcourt by two and a half lengths.
In the absence of owner/trainer Harry Kelly, his brother Jimmy remarked: “She was a very hardy mare to break and we will have a look at the Gain Mares’ Final at Ballynoe in time."
David Kiely likes nothing more than to have a winner at his local fixture, which isn’t at all surprising as his wife Breda is the meeting’s Chairperson, and he saddled the winner of the Al Eile Stud five-year-old-and-upwards confined maiden for novice riders in the form of newcomer Definite Dilemma.
The five-year-old Definite Dilemma, a second career winner for Mrs Kiely’s 19-year-old nephew Conor Houlihan and owned by his father Martin, led from half-way and he stylishly asserted from two out. A rapturous round of applause broke out when he safely negotiated the last and with favourite Chance It, falling here when well-beaten in second spot, it was left to the only other finisher Autumn Rain to return a distance adrift of the winning son of Definite Article.
“He’s a nice horse that I think is a bumper type. He would like nicer ground and Conor’s father Martin Houlihan bought him as a three-year-old, “reported Kiely of the clearly-useful Definite Dilemma.
Jamie Codd brought up his three-timer aboard owner/trainer Denis Murphy’s La Cavsa Nostra in the Tom Curran - Topline six-year-old-and-upwards geldings’ maiden.
La Cavsa Nostra, who finished sixth on the final of his two bumper forays for Rebecca Curtis at Bangor last March, stepped up from his fourth-placed points debut effort at Borris House before Christmas by benefiting from frontrunning tactics. Although challenged briefly by Seedorf after two out, La Cavsa Nostra readily brushed aside that opponent on the run to the final fence and he then stormed clear to beat Robins Spirit by 10 lengths.
“He’s a typical Flemensfirth in that he loves that soft ground and he will now go for a winner’s race, “said Murphy of La Cavsa Nostra.