On an afternoon that saw just six races, The Hollinwell (4/5) supplemented his victories at Grennan, Boulta and Punchestown this term by always travelling smoothly as Kellystown Lad cut out the running. Runner-up Capal Dubh Alainn briefly led on the run to the third last. The Hollinwell however landed in front here and he stormed clear from the penultimate of the 14 obstacles to beat Liam O’Brien’s charge by an unextended seven lengths.
The 11-year-old could now make the journey to the Cotswolds next month, the elder O’Sullivan remarking: “This horse is crying out for good ground. If the ground is good at Cheltenham next month, he will go straight there for the Foxhunters”.
Eoin O’Sullivan, who took the opportunity to remember his close friend Ryan Cusack who died in a tragic accident in Co Limerick during the week, partnered the first double of his career for the Sixth Year Rockwell student was earlier on the mark aboard his father’s newcomer Scorpiancer (7/1) in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.
Owned by the trainer’s long-standing patron Tomas Singleton, Scorpiancer stylishly made his way past the frontrunning Westerner Point before the penultimate of the 14 obstacles to oblige by ten lengths. The likelihood is that the 2012 Goffs Land Rover sale graduate Scorpiancer will now be offered at the Cheltenham sale during next month’s festival on March 13th.
Liam Burke also departed with two winners, the Glengoura-based handler opening his account with the Richie Harding-ridden Blodge (4/1) in the five and six-year-old mares’ maiden.
Blodge made virtually all the running and she drew clear from the third last to slam well-supported newcomer Easter Bonnie by 12 lengths in the colours of Swiss native Joerg Vasicek, who bred the winning daughter of Kalanisi through his Kenilworth Stud outside Ardfinnan in Co Tipperary.
Burke brought up his brace courtesy of the exciting five-year-old Mezendore (5/2) in the winners of two.
Mezendore benefited from a patient ride by Mikey O’Connor by sweeping through to lead on the descent to the final fence and the pre-Christmas Avaune maiden victor was always possessing too many aces for favourite Fence Me In as the line approached, one-length being the winning margin. Mezendore, representing Hans Joerg Zindel, is now likely to be aimed at another winners contest before being launched over fences next season.
Louis Archdeacon, fresh from Winged Express’ maiden victory at Tallow the previous Sunday, struck with Strong Wind (7/4) in the novice riders confined hunts maiden.
Strong Wind, owned by Archdeacon’s wife Michelle in partnership with her sister Julie, made virtually all the running for Second Year UCC Economics student Brendan Crowley. Strong Wind valiantly asserted from the final fence to thwart Everest by two lengths and by doing so, the eight-year-old was atoning for finishing second in this same race last year.
Proceedings closed with a clearcut victory for Cloughernagh Boy (2/1), trained by former jumps jockey Robert Widger, in the six-year-old geldings’ maiden. Cloughernagh Boy stepped up from his excellent third-placed debut effort at Ballindenisk in December by easing into the lead with Ciaran Fennessy at the fourth last en-route to defeating Curraghbower by 13 lengths in the silks of Cloughernagh (Tramore) publican Gerard Keane.