It was a red-letter day at Ballycrystal for 18-year-old Carlow native Conor Blake, who secured his first victory to date aboard the Kevin O'Donnell-owned, trained and bred Lesser in the Pat & Gavin six-year-old and upwards geldings' maiden.
The son of Stowaway made a winning debut to record a facile six-length victory over the previously placed Liam Kenny-trained Milanford.
"He is a good horse. He got a little setback last year and came out of it well, so he has been working well since. We thought we might have had him ready for before Christmas, but it just didn’t happen,” said O'Donnell.
Jamie Codd and Denis Murphy also had a memorable day at the new Co. Wexford track, teaming up to secure a treble on the afternoon.
The first leg of the treble came in the BHA Construction Ltd & Ballyhuskard winner-of-two race where Codd teamed up with Beatthebullet.The pair were four lengths too good for the Colin Bowe-trained Ballymorris Rose back in second.
The son of Flemensfirth, who quickly bounced back from a disappointing fourth a week earlier in Aghabullogue, will remain between the flags, as Murphy said: "They tell me the ground was too heavy for him last week.
Luke (Murphy) didn’t give him a hard time and that stood to him as he finished out the race very well today. We will keep tipping away in winners’ company now.”
It wasn't long before the pair secured a double, when Born In Borris took the Casey Concrete and Denis Murphy six-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden with a facile 12-length winner over Maybe It's Time.
The Arcadio mare was much too good for her rivals as she stepped up from her Borris House debut, to run out the easiest winner of the afternoon.
“I don’t have her that long, so she wasn’t fully ready for Borris. We said we would just give her a quick spin around for the experience that day and she improved a lot for it. She picked up very nicely there today and could be a nice horse. I’m not sure if she will be sold or go for a mares’ winner-of-one now.” said Murphy.
The pair also took the finale of the afternoon, which ultimately provided them with the treble, as
Breakeven took the Gowran Park and Ellen Doyle, Baltimore Stables-sponsored confined maiden by four lengths over the Cormac Doyle-trained The Silent Trainer.
It was a poignant winner for Murphy, as his Grandfather was the hunt’s first huntsman and hunted from his homeplace.
"He ran well before he fell in Kinsale. He is 17hh 1 and is only maturing now. We are taking our time with him and he will go for a winner-of-one race in three or four weeks," said Murphy.
The Donnchadh Doyle-sponsored five-year-old geldings' maiden was won by the Colin Motherway-trained The Bees Knees.
Ridden by Brian Lawless in the colours of Pat Coffey, the son of Oscar scored by a comfortable five-lengths over Tommy's Oscar, having offered promise in more testing conditions at Boulta before Christmas.
"He is a nice moving Oscar, so the better ground here was a help, and we are delighted to get the winner and the ball rolling for the new year," said Motherway.
Michael Murphy and Tiernan Power Roche teamed up to take the Moses Coffey, L&M Motors, Jason Kelly Specialist Cars and Ronan Furlong Tyre World five-year-old mares' maiden with Too The Future.
In the colours of Redbridge Stables, the daughter of Mahler went on to score by two-lengths over Delightfantastic.
"She loves good ground and is a well-bred filly. We will enjoy today and see how we go then," said Murphy.