United Hunt (F) at Ballynoe on Saturday 17th March.
There was a most unusual occurrence in the Goffs UK Aintree Sale four-year-old maiden as the Pat Doyle-trained winner Axiomatic, sporting the Gigginstown House Stud silks that were carried to success seven times at last week’s Cheltenham festival, finished alone in the hands of Derek O’Connor. Axiomatic, a €60, 000 graduate of last year’s Goffs Land Rover sale that is a half-brother to ‘Mouse’ Morris’ useful winning hurdler Beyond The Law, was tracking the front running Rewritetherules in second spot when Donnchadh Doyle’s charge fell three out. Axiomatic, who was a length adrift at the time, was then left in the lead and the triumphant son of Milan was the only one of the five runners that set out to complete the course as the remaining three participants all pulled up. “He’s a nice horse that will now be going home and he should hopefully develop into a smart sort, “said Doyle of Axiomatic.
Lac Fontana, winner of the 2014 renewal of the Grade 3 County Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival when under the care of Paul Nicholls, went one better than he did behind Winter Magic on his points debut at Killeagh in January by recording an authoritative front running success in The Big Tree Bar & Dermot OLeary Agri Open under his handler Paurick O’Connor’s brother Derek. Lac Fontana got into a beautiful rhythm at the head of affairs and it was crystal clear that he was in command from two out. At the post, he had five lengths to spare over veteran Truckin All Night with a three lengths break back to the mare Back To Basics in third spot.
Favourite Morning Assembly was beaten from after three out and he finished an additional 10 lengths back in fourth spot, but he didn’t altogether aid his chances by getting loose beforehand at the start. “He is different gravy and he will stay pointing, maybe he could now run at Loughanmore over Easter and maybe then go for a hunters chase later on, “said handler O’Connor who also paid tribute to bloodstock agent Tom Malone for advising him to buy the French-bred on behalf of the Three Dudes Syndicate at Doncaster last August.
The Coolmore Stud, Liam Geary Garage & Mr. Softee Ice-Cream five-year-old-upwards mares’ maiden came complete with a generous €1, 000 bonus to the winning owner, sponsored by the O’Keeffe family from Ballynoe, and it is an event that will live long in the memory of 19-year-old David O’Brien from Ballincollig as he partnered an initial career winner aboard Belgooly-based handler/breeder Tom Keogh’s Steak And Spuds.
The diminutive Steak And Spuds, a Flemensfirth-sired daughter of Pip ‘n Pop that finished runner-up to Shelleyjo in the 2007 renewal of the Gain Mares’ Final, arrived from the rear of the field to challenge long-time leader Ninja Nelly at the third last. The recent Bandon runner-up Steak And Spuds took the measure of Ninja Nelly on bypassing the final fence and she ultimately obliged by eight lengths in the silks of the two-member Tutti Fruitti Syndicate. Keogh, who has two horses in training, indicated that Steak And Spuds will now be aimed at a winners race.
In a race that saw the biggest field of the day in 14 runners, the Paul Cashman-trained newcomer Speedy Buck sprung a major surprise in the Anthony & Associates Agri-Consultant and Winners Enclosure Bar five-year-old geldings’ maiden by obliging in the hands of Brian Linehan. Speedy Buck, who shares his sire Beat Hollow with Sunday’s impressive Dromahane maiden winner Minella Indo, made progress from mid division to lead after the final fence. At the post, the embryonic chaser Speedy Buck had a length to spare over eyecatching first-timer Minella Examiner whilst the equally-promising Truckin Away returned just a head adrift in third spot. “This is a bit unexpected as he is only three quarters ready and we have been waiting for a bit of nicer ground. He will now probably go into training here in Ireland, “said Cashman of his mother Catherine’s Speedy Buck, who hails from a strong Ballymacoll distaff family that includes the likes of Saddlers’ Hall and Spectrum.
Noel McParlan, fresh from his success aboard Missed Approach in the Kim Muir Chase at Cheltenham two days earlier, made his initial visit to Ballynoe a winning one by landing the featured Gain Horse Feeds Gain mares’ final aboard the Noel Kelly-trained Milan Dancer. Already a three-time point’s scorer on the northern circuit this season, Milan Dancer moved into a challenging position three out. Although then sustaining some interference on the inner after this third last fence, Milan Dancer moved to the front before two out and she was gone beyond recall when somewhat slow at the final fence. She ultimately accounted for the maiden Goulane Jessie by six lengths in the colours of her handler’s mother Mrs Christina Kelly, who also received a bonus of €3, 000 as the winning owner that was sponsored by Gain Horse Feeds and the Ballynoe hunt. Kelly, who travelled south from his Draperstown base in Co Derry the previous evening, remarked: “The race suited her and she toughed it out best on the ground. The plan before today was that she would go for the mares’ hunters chase at Cork on Easter Monday.”
Macs Legend, who was placed five times on the track, made his initial start for Gerry Kelleher a winning one by successfully reverting to point’s duty with John Barry in the Rathbarry Stud & Langan Concrete six-year-old-and-upwards geldings’ maiden. Macs Legend, who actually finished third in a maiden at this same meeting exactly three years ago to the day, moved through to dispute the running with Shallamar from six out. He then set sail for home at the third last and the result was never in doubt thereafter as he drew clear to account for Shallamar by 12 lengths. “His class brought him through here and he is a fun horse that will now go to Cork for the hunters chase on Easter Monday, “said Kelleher of Macs Legend, owned by Shane Prenderville from Macroom.
Report | Ballynoe Sat Mar 18
"“He is different gravy and he will stay pointing”"
United Hunt (F) at Ballynoe on Saturday 17th March.