Trainer Willie Mullins, who shared a double with his son Patrick, captured most of the headlines at Powerstown Park’s pre Christmas meeting on Thursday where the going was described as heavy (soft in places) on the hurdles course and soft (heavy on places) on the chase course.
The Mullins afternoon began in the opening Powerstown Three-Year-Old Maiden Hurdle in which his Fatcatinthehat went off the hot 4/9 market leader under Ruby Walsh. However, given a patient ride, the jolly just failed to catch the front running 8/1 chance Crouching Harry which kept on well to hold the late challenge and take the spoils by half a length with Hazariban three and a quarter lengths back in third place. The winner which had plenty of experience on his side was given a fine ride by Michael Butler and he is owned by the Suir Syndicate a group of three which includes former Kilkenny hurling star Christy Heffernan. Winning trainer Mooncoin based Eoin Doyle has been finding Clonmel a lucky track as has enjoyed a fine strike rate at the venue in recent times. The favourite of which much was expected was a disappointment to his supporters but will no doubt find compensation over the Christmas period.
The second race of the day The Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Mares Maiden Hurdle saw the Mullins trained Glens Melody supported to a prohibitive 1/8 chance and this mount of Patrick Mullins led two out and was pushed out in the closing stages to score easily by six and a half lengths from the 20/1 outsider Moyas Charm which had set out to make all the running for local trainer R.J. Lalor and kept on well to take second prize money ahead of Tukawhile. Willie Mullins reported that his classy charge will have her next run in a winners’ race over the festive season.
The next Willie Mullins runner was Cadspeed in the Kilsheelan Beginners Chase and having been supported from 6/1 to 9/2 Ruby Walsh’s mount having led from flag fall pulled away of his rivals and had the race sown up only to fall at the last fence to leave the 6/1 chance Dream Function come home alone twelve lengths clear of Mazuri Cowboy with Castle Wings a length and three-quarters back in third place. The winner is a full sister to the classy Arkle winner Captain Chris and was making her chasing debut having joined Gorey trainer Colm Murphy from the top cross-channel yard of Philip Hobbs in recent months. Another faller in the event was top hurdler The Real Article which exited at the seventh fence. Robbie Power was the winning rider and Dream Function together with the unlucky Cadspeed can be added to the list of horses to follow over Christmas.
The Willie and Patrick Mullins double was completed in the final event The Next Meeting Thursday February 7th Qualified Riders Colts and Geldings Maiden Hurdle by the 4/6 favourite Ballycasey which went clear two hurdles from home before before going on to score impressively by eight lengths from Noble Pageant and Fairy Court.
This was the winner’s first outing for almost a year and he looks another that will step to greater things in the months ahead.
The Mullins double apart, Bagenalstown had earlier captured another Clonmel prize as trainer Tom Foley also based in that area had sent out the 7/2 joint favourite Playing to take the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle with Shane Butler in the saddle.
This winner was mighty impressive in romping to a five length win over War of Words and his next appearance will be awaited with interest.
Waterford rider David Casey, Naas based trainer Arthur Moore and owner John P. McManus combined to take the Fethard Handicap Chase with the 7/1 chance Fever Pitch.
The 3/1 favourite Bangonform could only stay on at the one pace for fifth place as Fever Pitch ran on well under pressure under a great ride to get up in the final strides and defeat the 16/1 chance Killcara Boy by half a length in an exciting climax. The winner paid odds of almost on the tote.
Drogheda based trainer George Kingston had a welcome winner in the shape of the 3/1 favourite Ros Brin which took the Clonmel Racecourse Supporters Club Only 85euro Beginners Chase by six lengths despite a few jumping errors. With Stephen Gray in the saddle Ros Brin went clear on the run from the last to defeat Tadhg and Dangan Daylight to take the spoils for the High on a Hill Syndicate.
The tote aggregate for the meeting was an impressive j67,785.32 which compared more than favourably with the figure of j42,089.96 wagered at the corresponding meeting a year ago. The Jackpot Poll of j362 was not won and was carried forward to Dundalk whilst the Placepot Pool amounted to j23,820. This saw 161.88 winning units each receive j110.30.
Racing at Powerstown Park will resume on Thursday, February 7.