Sixteen-year-old Ronan Whelan enjoyed his second success when producing an accomplished display aboard Puncher Clynch in the featured Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Premier Nursery at Listowel yesterday.
His previous win came on Seachantach, like Puncher Clynch, trained by Jim Bolger, at Navan. Whelan had the son of Azamour bowling along in front from the start and was seen to real effect through the final furlong.
Joshua Tree, a major order in the ring, tried his luck up the inside in the straight, but could not find an opening and was hampered inside the furlong pole.
Joseph O’Brien switched him for a final challenge, but the bird had flown and Puncher Clynch was three parts of a length to the good at the line.
The stewards inquired into the incident, but there was never any possibility of a change in placings, although Whelan was warned to ride with more care.
Whelan, clearly a youngster for the future, is a former champion pony rider, with 95 winners in that sphere to his credit.
The Paul Cashman-trained Rebel Aclaim made just about all the running to take the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Fillies Handicap.
Drombeag Dawn ranged up as a big danger in the straight, but the winner found plenty for Danny Mullins to prevail by three parts of a length.
Said Cashman: “We tried to put her in foal early in the year and I’m kind of glad we failed. She could come back here over seven furlongs on Saturday.”
Bookmakers began their day in style when Paul Deegan’s newcomer, Pirans Rock, took the O’Callaghan Family Hotels EBF Maiden at 25-1.
Aidan O’Brien’s first-timer, Big Occasion, was friendless in the market, but performed far better than might have been expected.
He made a lot of the running, but Willie Supple produced Pirans Rock to cut him down close home with Dalkan, 8-1 to 5-1, finishing to good effect to fill a close third.
The layers seemed very anxious to get Mujaazef, the clear form horse on his second at the Curragh previously, in the Jet O’Carroll Memorial Median Auction Maiden.
They went as high as 6-4, but soon realised the error of their ways and Kevin Prendergast’s colt was hammered down to 8-11.
He never gave supporters any cause for concern, cruising throughout, before lengthening clear for Declan McDonogh over a furlong down.
Bookmakers were literally on the ropes following the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Fillies Maiden.
This went to another heavily-backed market-leader, David Wachman’s Foolish Ambition, who was redeeming the promise of her second at the Curragh earlier in the season.
Available as high as 5-4, she was returned at 8-11. Wachman, at the sales in Keeneland, missed seeing the daughter of Danehill Dancer edge ahead early in the straight.
Kevin Prendergast’s Dance Hall Girl was soon in hot pursuit and actually touched the front inside the furlong pole.
Wayne Lordan was soon getting a generous response from the winner, though, and Foolish Ambition was nicely on top close home.
“The trip was a bare minimum, she wants further”, reported Lordan. “I would have liked to have had a lead for a bit longer.”
Ben Curtis gave Tom McCourt’s Zhukov a fine drive to land the Brandon Hotel Handicap.
He brought the six-year-old with a powerful late run to score going away from Mt Wetaher and Braddock.
Pat Shanahan and Tracey Collins have enjoyed a terrific season and they were on the mark again when Orlando Dawn won the Kerry Petroleum Handicap.
This was Shanahan at his strongest, as he powered his charge up on the line to short-head the flattering Maggie The Cat.
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