It was a bumper day of racing at the Co. Antrim track with doubles on the marathon 10-race card going to both Derek O'Connor and Noel McParlan.
The Donnelly and Taggart adjacent maiden initiated the double for the reigning northern champion, aboard the Noel Kelly-trained James Boru. Just held in Castletown over Easter, the son of Brian Boru was sent off as the favourite and justified the support to win somewhat easily by six-lengths over Skyhill, denying land owner Wilson Dennison a victory on the day. "He really deserved to win a race after he was touched off on his debut. He is a lovely horse and I’m delighted for his owner Victor McCrea, who purchased him last year. He will progress to the track and should win more races," reported Kelly.
McParlan teamed up with his father Sean to record an impressive victory with the newcomer Drumlee Watar to score in the second division of the Albert Bartlett five-and-six-year-old geldings’ maiden. The son of Watar could be called the winner from some way out and showed a very good turn of foot to quickly put distance between himself and his rivals on the turn for home to seal a ten-length victory over the Denis Murphy-trained Chasing Highs. “He is a great wee horse that we picked up as a foal. He has a good engine and will head to the sales now," reported the elder McParlan of his own Drumlee Watar.
That father and son team went close adding to their day’s successes with Hi Murphy who only suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Diomede Des Mottess in the opening division of that Albert Bartlett five and six-year-old geldings’ maiden. The son of Kapgarde, who was second at this venue back in March, jumped well throughout before battling very strongly in the hands of Rob James to provide his handler Donnchadh Doyle with a 26th winner of the season to maintain his spot at the top of the handlers leaderboard. “He’s a grand horse - good and tough and he had a great run here the last day. We rode him more positively today and he jumped great and stuck it out to the line,” reported Doyle of Diomede Des Mottes, a half-brother to the Willie Mullins-trained Sandown Listed bumper winner, Babylone Des Mottes that could now go for a winners’ race.
The top two riders in this season’s novice rider’s award category were both on the scoreboard on the afternoon beginning with leader Sean O’Keeffe in division one of the Dennison Commercials four-year-old maiden. His mount, the Cormac Farrell-trained Thunderstruck, made a very favourable impression, as after taking up the lead at the back of the last, he battling gamely to return home one-length in advance of Maypole Class. "He’s a beautiful Fame and Glory horse and we thought he wasn’t quite ready for today, but he proved us wrong. He will improve for a summer break and come back an even better horse," reported owner Edgar Allen of Thunderstruck, a €10,000 purchase of the 2017 edition of the Tattersalls Derby sale and he is now set to be offered for sale once again.
Last year's novice champion Shane Fitzgerald currently sits three in arrears of O'Keeffe having taken the second division of the Dennison Commercials Ltd four-year-old maiden aboard Tribesman Glory for his boss Michael Goff. The €30,000 graduate of last year’s Goffs Land Rover sale was left in front at the sixth following the departure of Mounthill, and the son of Jeremy always had the measure of runner-up Northern Bounds, crossing the line half-a-length clear of that rival. "I thought a lot of him coming here today as he was working very well at home. We are delighted with that run today and Shane gave him a great ride," reported Goff of his wife, Caitriona's charge. "He’s a cracking horse that I bought from Martin Cullinane hence the name, as Martin is from Galway. He will head for the sales next."
The Crawford brothers of Stuart and Ben teamed up to take the final heat of the four-year-old maiden with the Roy Wilson-owned The Very Man. Falling at Moria on debut, the son of Jeremy made amends here travelling very well into the race and he stretched to an easy six-lengths victory over Jasmin Des Bordes. “He is a serious horse and has plenty of gears. I had him entered up in a few different places and I was going to run him in a bumper as Brian Hughes was trying to persuade me to go that route, but we ended up coming here. He has been ready to go for a while and was unfortunate in Moira as he made a novicey mistake," divulged the winning handler.
Derek O'Connor got off the mark for the day abroad Getaway Honey in the Doherty Woodshavings mares maiden, trained by his brother Paurick. It was the third start for the daughter of Getaway, who on debut had chased home recent Tipperary hunter chase winner Mabeywhoknowsmabey. Sporting the colours of the Three Dudes Syndicate, Getaway Honey made her way to the head of affairs on the home bend and kept on well to lead home Go Millie Go by three-lengths. "She is owned by my brother Sean with Katie McCarthy, who bred her. She gained experience from her first two outings and improved greatly from them. She will hopefully head to the Doncaster sales now," disclosed the winning handler.
Derek O'Connor doubled up in the Dennison JCB mares open when steering John Duggan’s Longhouse Music to a six length success over Isn't She Lovely. Trained in Co. Tipperary by Sam Curling, Longhouse Music was a class above her rivals here, however the task was somewhat simplified when the favourite Corella Creek crashed out two from home. This success brings the daughter of Gamut winning tally to four for the season. "She done it well today and hopefully we will head to Ballingarry on the last weekend of the season for the mares open," reported Curling.
Division two of the Doherty Woodshavings mares’ maiden went the way of the Jerry Cosgrave-trained She Mite Bite in the hands of Mark O'Hare. The daughter of Scorpion took up the running from before the last fence and kept on well to run out an impressive 12-length winner to Listentothewomen. “She was very green the first day at Largy but she really learned from that today. She could head to the sales now," commented Cosgrave of She Mite Bite, a €800 purchase as a foal by current owner Robert Armstrong.
The Brian Hamilton-trained Some Response continued his upwards trajectory to take the McIntyres Tools and Equipment winners of two under Barry O'Neill. The son of Court Cave asserted at the back of the second-last to win pick-up his third race on the bounce with a ten-length defeat of Lisnagreggan. “He is a different horse this year and has been very impressive again. We will see how he is after today and possibly run in the Downpatrick hunter chase or the three winner in Irvinestown," stated Hamilton of his own Some Response, who only won his older maiden at this venue at the start of April.