A Tipp FM family day at Clonmel on Sunday had something for everyone and despite the counter attractions, not least the All-Ireland hurling replays, a decent attendance turned out on a lovely autumn afternoon for a well supported eight race all National Hunt card which surprisingly was run off under perfect conditions described officially as good to firm.
The highlight of the meeting was the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Captain Christy Novice Chase which carried a winner’s prize of j13,650 and this was won in hugely impressive style by the warm even money favourite Sea of Thunder which relished the conditions and sauntered to a thirteen lengths victory over Total Submission with the third prize going to Rockshandy. Apart from a serious blunder at the fifth fence at which rider Davy Russell did very well to sit tight, Sea of Thunder, a dual point to point winner and an unlucky Cheltenham loser over hurdles, jumped most impressively and could well prove a future star. He ran in the colours of the Gigginstown House Stud and is trained in Ballingarry, Co. Limerick by Charles Byrnes.
Racing began with the Kilmore Three Year Old Maiden Hurdle for which Everything Zain was an odds-on 5/6 favourite to score for trainer Dessie Hughes. However the favourite was well beaten by the 7/1 chance South South West which was given a fine patient ride by Andrew McNamara. He made smooth headway in the straight and led before the last to take the spoils by two and a half lengths from the jolly with the 66/1 outsider Ice Ice Baby in third place. South South West is trained in Rathgormack, Carrick-on-Suir by Pat Flynn for the W.J. Souths Racing Club.
Another local trainer Edward O’Grady was expected to take the Laganore Maiden Hurdle with the 5/4 favourite Tobar Na Gaoise but Mark Walsh’s mount which is owned by J.P. McManus lost out in a close finish which saw the Paul Carberry ridden Cloudgazer, which had been headed after attempting to make all, coming again to get up and score by half a length from Cullentry Royal with Tobar Na Gaoise a head back in third. The winner a 7/2 chance is trained by Noel Meade.
A nice gamble was landed in the www.clonmelraces.ie Novice Hurdle when Dara Tango the mount of Ruby Walsh was supported from 12/1 to 7/1 and duly did the business under a fine ride. Landenstown Lady trained in Fethard by David Harry Kelly looked the winner when leading at the second last but was headed by Dara Tango inside the final furlong and went under by a neck. The winner is trained in Summerhill, Co. Meath by Tony Martin.
In the first of two Divisions of the Tipp FM Family Raceday Handicap Hurdle, Slieverue, Co. Kilkenny trainer Eoin Griffin saddled the 8/1 winner Realt Den Cathair and he was another who expressed his delight at the change in the going. Eddie O’Connell’s mount chased the leader 14/1 shot Playtime Ben in the straight and was hard ridden to get up on the line and take the spoils by a short head with Wontbelongnow six lengths back in third place. Realt Den Cathair is owned by the Broadmeadows Syndicate.
The second Division was the medium of another successful gamble as Handsome Dan which had been available at 14/1 in the offices in the morning was plunged on to 6/1 and this gelding landed the odds in fine style under a confident ride from Adrian Heskin.
The winner had two and a half lengths in hand of the Kieran Purcell trained runner-up Misty Weather and Larkin finished a further six and a half lengths back in third place.
Charleville based Denis Leahy was the delighted trainer.
The penultimate event was the Mary Whelan’s 60th Birthday Handicap Chase and this was won by another Cork handler Michael John O’Connor from Liscarroll. His Island Peak, a 14/1 chance ridden by seven pound claimer Brian Cawley jumped the last hurdle in great style to take the prize by half a length from the 20/1 outsider Big Dano with Banna Beach just three quarters of a length back in third spot in another exciting finish.
The excitement continued in the final event, The Killahora Pro/Am Irish National Hunt Flat Race, which produced a fitting climax to a most entertaining afternoon. Seefood from the Dessie Hughes yard went off the 9/4 market leader and the gelding stayed on strongly to get up on the line for a short head verdict over the well supported Dubh Go Leir with Donal O’Connor’s promising Dushybeag only a neck behind in third place. Owned by the Lyreen Syndicate Seefood was partnered by Mr. J.J. King.
The aggregate totalisator bet for the eight races amounted to a healthy j75,086.66 which compared very favourably with the j56,580.02 waged at the seven race corresponding meeting a year ago.
The Jackpot Pool of just j296 was not won and carried forward to Roscommon on Monday.