Battling Hartani follows up

Winner of his maiden in heavy ground over course and distance three weeks ago, the John Oxx-trained Hartani followed-up when producing a gutsy front-running display in the opening Follow TipperaryRaces On Twitter Race at Tipperary last night, sparking a double for champion jockey Johnny Murtagh.

A grey son of Shirocco, Hartani made all and, despite showing signs of inexperience and apparently hanging at different stages, displayed a good attitude when tackled in the straight to beat Montebell by a length and a half.

Oxx’s assistant Jim O’Neill said of the Aga Khan-owned colt: “We were worried about the ground and he got away with it. But Johnny said he wouldn’t want it any faster. It was a good, tough, staying, performance from a progressive horse. He’s so switched off that he should get any trip. We’ll probably see what mark he gets before making plans for him.”

Murtagh, now on the 20 winner mark for the season, completed his double in the following Irish Stallion Farms Median Auction 2-Y-0 Maiden when debutante Zoola broke smartly and showed good speed throughout to beat another newcomer Rose Garden, with favourite Truly Madly third.

Zoola, a daughter of Iffraaj, was a first two-year-old winner for her owner-trainer Andy Heffernan who admitted: “She has been working well at home, upsides Give Me Shelter, which won recently in Dundalk, and I felt that if she could produce that, she’d be thereabouts. She’s a flyer at the gate, which is a big help.”

Another owner-trainer to visit the winner’s enclosure was local handler Michael Browne who saddled Queen Grace, strongly ridden by crack apprentice Ronan Whelan, to land the five-furlong Follow Tipperary On Facebook Handicap at the expense of longtime leader Judies Child.

Browne enthused: “It’s always great to have a winner, particularly here. She’s the first filly I’ve trained and has been very consistent, never out of the first four.”

And, after praising winning rider Whelan, he added: “The problem is that there are no races for her in Ireland, over five furlongs. So she’ll be heading to Kempton, Windsor or Catterick in a fortnight.”

The Michael Halford-trained Sharp And Smart, making her handicap debut, gave Shane ‘Dusty’ Foley his 13th success of the season when justifying sustained support and 7/2 favouritism in the Kilfeacle Stud Portrait Gallery Handicap. The Dark Angel filly got home by a length and a quarter from front-runner Pepparpot and survives a short Stewards Enquiry.

The Kedrah House Stud Well Chosen Novice Hunters Chase produced a shock when 1/2 favourite Gale Force Oscar was readily brushed aside by Elembridge King, trained in Duncormick, Co Wexford by Brian Jordan.

The six-year-old, ridden by Mark Scallan, sprinted clear from the last to beat the favourite emphatically by eight lengths, prompting winning owner Sean Connick, from Broadway, Co Wexford, to comment: “We were hoping he’d be placed, although he has never run on ground as fast as that. Hopefully, he’ll be alright in the morning.

“I’ll have to talk to Brian about whether he’ll run in another hunter chase (there are only two left, in Listowel and Downpatrick) or go straight out for the summer.”

In the Point-to-Point bumper action, Tom Cummins, who is based in Clashmore, Co Waterford, registered his first winner as a trainer when 33/1 shot Millie Le Bach landed the mares’ event under Declan Lavery.

Cummins savoured the moment, during and after the race, declaring: “The famine is over. That’s my fist winner and she’s the mare’s only foal in 14 years, a mare that was special to my father, who died a year ago on Saturday, May 26.”

The second bumper produced another shock and another success for County Waterford as Do Ya Feel Lucky (40/1), trained near Cappoquin by Bob Murphy, held the well-backed No Deal by a head, under a strong ride from Jamie Codd.

* John Egan was banned for three racedays for using his whip with excessive force after his chance of winning or being placed had gone on Sweet Annathea (finished thirteenth) in the seven-furlong handicap.

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