Disappointingly a long period of dry weather gave way to a day of heavy rain which resulted in deteriorating ground that became extremely testing and was officially changed to heavy on the hurdle course following the second event at Clonmel last Thursday.
The attendance suffered due to the conditions but it was encouraging that the tote aggregate for the meeting showed an increase on the figure for last year’s corresponding card.
The punters welcomed four winning favourites on an afternoon that produced a number of impressive performances but these results were balanced somewhat by a 33/1 winner in the second race which paid tote odds of almost 119/1 on the tote and a 10/1 winner in the featured Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase. That race was sponsored by John P. McManus who had earlier won the Carrick-on-Suir Mares Handicap Hurdle with the Christy Roche trained Speckled Wood.
Patrons got off to a good start with the success of the market leader the 9/4 chance Ancient Days in the opening Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Maiden Hurdle run over two and a half miles. Partnered by Andrew J.McNamara for Dungarvan trainer John Queally Ancient Days was always prominent and regained the lead from the 18/1 chase Shazner between the final hurdles. Although Shazner ridded by Brian Cooper stayed on gallantly the favourite gained a length or so at the last and kept on to take the spoils by a length and three quarters with Noble Pageant running on well in the closing stages to take the third place. Bred by Tony Mullins, Ancient Days is owned by Mrs. A.F. Mee.
The Mouse Morris trained Spot Fine was all the rage in the eighteen runner Lisronagh Maiden Hurdle going off very short at 11/10 but failed completely to handle the ground and made no impression in the concluding stages. In contrast the 33/1 outsider Glen Beg revelled in the conditions and having led at the entrance to the home straight raced away to score by eight and a half lengths from Black Zero with Auld Sthock four and a half lengths back in third place. The successful rider was Brian O’Connell and the winner is trained in Crossabeg, Co. Wexford by Elizabeth Doyle who is looking forward to a big run from Le Vent d’Antan in the Cheltenham bumper on this Wednesday afternoon.
Speckled Wood topped the market at 7/4 for the Carrick-on-Suir Mares Handicap Hurdle and despite carrying top weight of 11-5 the daughter of Like A Butterfly won with something to spare under a good ride from seven pound claimer Jody McGarvey. The winning margin was three and three quarter lengths from market rival Lead Kindly Light and the third place was filled by Castle Genie which ran on well in the closing stages.
Trainer Eamonn Gallagher who has just three horses in his care in Conna, Co. Cork took the Comeragh Handicap Hurdle with the 7/1 chance Backinthere which was another to defy top weight in the testing conditions. Paying almost 10/1 on the tote Backinthere, under a fine ride from Adrian Heskin, went for home on the downhill run to the straight and stayed on bravely to hold the determined challenge of Day Dream Boy by a length and a quarter and it was the same distance back to the third Swift Lady. Backinthere which was gaining a third career success is owned by Vincent Sheehan.
Gallant Oscar, available at 6/1 and 7/1 in the offices and also well supported on course to go off the 3/1 favourite was not extended to land the gamble in decisive fashion. The Oscar gelding was racing for the first time since receiving a 42 day ban as an alleged non-trier at Punchestown last January and he won even more cosily than the six length winning margin over Coolnagorna Giggs would indicate. The Punchestown inquiry had also heavily fined the gelding’s then trainer Denis Quinn from Newmarket-on-Fergus and Gallant Oscar’s win here was in the name of Quinn’s neighbour Pat Lynch who was quick to say that the hard work had already been done by his former trainer. The runner-up is trained in Nenagh by Tom Hogan for Pat McLoughney and was the nearest the home county came to producing a winner on the card although this might be disputed by
by the Bansha born but Kildare based Christy Roche, the trainer of the earlier successful Speckled Hen.
The Martinstown Opportunity Handicap sponsored by John P. McManus carried a nice purse of well over 11,000 euro and this was won by the 10/1 chance Hidden Crack trained in Monasterevin by Seamus Fahey and ridden by Shane Butler who is riding at the top of his form. Hidden Crack is a half-brother of Cue Card which is a major Cheltenham fancy for cross-channel trainer Colin Tizzard. Hidden Crack, however is,
according to his trainer, a bit of a rogue and future plans are fluid. Nevertheless he won this in fine style and in spite of a mistake at the least had four lengths in hand of runner-up Mister First with Zardsky three and three quarter lengths away in third place.
The concluding Ardfinnan Irish National Hunt Flat Race saw Turnandgo the only runner of the afternoon from the Willie Mullins yard installed the hot 1/2 favourite and the gelding duly obliged in the manner of a very useful performer. Held up early he moved effortlessly to the front inside the last two furlongs and motored clear to score by no less than eleven lengths from Mona Agnes with Graigue Cross two and three quarter lengths back in third. Connections regard him as a future chaser and that future will be awaited with interest.
The tote aggregate bet for the meeting amounted to 64,394.53 euro which compared favourably with the 63,003.00 euro wagered at the corresponding meeting a year ago.
The Jackpot Pool amounted to 1,081 euro and 20 winners each received 270.20 euro.
Only 7.8 units were successful in the Placepot and with the pool amounting to 24,167.48 euro the dividend was a massive 2,321 euro.
The next meeting at Clonmel will be on Holy Thursday, 28th March and will be an afternoon fixture.