Easy for Jim on Spanish John

PAT HUGHES’ Spanish John was always an odds-on chance for the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park Maiden Hurdle at the first stage of the Killarney Festival last night and he proved much too good for moderate rivals in the hands of local hero Jim Culloty.

The winner didn’t jump great, but had no trouble easing ahead before two out to beat He’s My Man by seven lengths.

Said Hughes: “He likes that ground, but jumped deliberately. It surprised me, I thought he was better than that. He will now go for a two mile race on the flat at Galway.”

Dermot Weld’s Mutakarrim warmed up for Galway when easily taking the four-runner Brehon Hotel ’Chase.

David Casey drove him into the lead at the second last and he kept going well to beat Quinze.

Weld wasn’t present, but, speaking from home, indicated that his seven-year-old has plenty options at Ballybrit.

He has been allotted 10-12 in the Plate and 10-9 in the Galway Hurdle. Weld said that if the handicapper gives his charge a penalty for the Plate then he will definitely miss that race. A return to the flat is also a possibility.

Widely Accepted relished every yard of the extended mile to take the Irish Stallion Farms’ Median Auction Maiden for Jamie Spencer.

The winner was travelling sweetly all the way up the straight, but Spencer, who was notching his 43rd success of the season, had to sit, suffer and wait for an opening.

It finally came inside the furlong pole and Widely Acccepted lengthened in style to master the flattering Baileys Best.

Commented trainer, Joe Crowley: “I have no real plans, but he is likely to go for a mile nursery somewhere. Three-year-old hurdling will be his game.”

Michael Grassick, whose horses have been out of form for much of the campaign, was entitled to breathe a huge sigh of relief after his Pine Valley had taken the Zurich Handicap.

The Entrepreneur filly and Tipper Road had a real battle up the straight and they went across the line locked together. The camera revealed that Pine Valley was a short head to the good where it mattered.

“That’s a change of luck,” remarked Grassick. “Most of my horses haven’t been right. This one, however, has been fine, we were just waiting on an ease in the ground.”

Pine Valley is owned in partnership by the trainer’s mother, Alice, and his son, Michael junior.

The well-backed Dolphin Bay defied top weight in the Aghadoe Heights Hotel Handicap, under a strong David Condon drive.

The four-year-old forged to the front just inside the furlong pole and powered clear to score by a cosy two and a half lengths.

Aine Dubh, suited by the ease in the ground, following intermittent rain, landed a touch in the second division of the Killarney Avenue-Munster Joinery Handicap, finding 2-1 from 4’s.

She swept through for Fran Berry inside the furlong pole to score going away and give her in-form pilot his 31st success of the campaign.

“She will run again here on Thursday, if alright,” reported owner-trainer, Kevin O’Donnell. “She is in foal to Kings Theatre and will finish up at Galway.”

Tom Hogan’s Rooftop Protest went for glory fully six furlongs from home in the first section of the same contest, and Robbie Burke was able to sit motionless in the closing stages as he cruised to victory.

Tim Doyle’s newcomer, Go Ali Go, produced with impeccable timing by the talented Niall Madden, easily took the Bumper.

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