Rumour mill gets it wrong as Clopf bolts in

EDWARD O’GRADY went to Aintree yesterday to supervise Ned Kelly’s bid for glory in the John Smith’s Foxhunters Chase.

That was ultimately doomed to failure, but O’Grady had much better luck at Tipperary last night when Clopf easily won the Thomastown Castle Race.

The Dr Massini gelding hadn’t been seen since finishing second to Hide The Evidence in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse back in early December.

There were sweeping rumours doing the rounds about his current well-being and a horse who was 4-5 and evens in the morning could be had as high as 3-1 on track.

The rumour-mongers were soon back-pedalling, however, and Clopf found favour into 2-1. He scored with plenty in hand.

Confidently handled by Fran Berry, the six-year-old coasted ahead over a furlong down and soon stretched clear of Alpha Jet, scoring by three and a half lengths.

O’Grady was represented by assistant, Tim Finn, who said: “Punchestown is the objective, where he will have a choice of engagements. He badly needed that, he was big.”

David Wachman’s horses are in full flow now and he was on the mark when 12-1 shot Speed Dream won the Race.

The Pivotal colt was drawn towards the outside, but always had these covered under Wayne Lordan. Speed Dream found a decent turn of foot inside the furlong pole to beat Divert by a cosy head.

Commented Wachman: “He was a very late foal and is improving. He was working nicely and will probably now step up to stakes class.”

Wachman and Lordan combined for a double when Followmyfootsteps grabbed the Majestic Missile Maiden.

This was a puzzling market. The winner was all the rage in the morning, 3-1 to 6-4, but friendless on course, 5-4 to 5-2.

In any case the son of Giant’s Causeway did his job really well, quickening past Eskadron inside the furlong pole. “He is a wicked slow learner”, reported Wachman.

“He is a horse who will never win by much and quite where we go next I don’t know.”

Ken Condon enjoyed his second two-year-old success of the season when Inzone took the Ballyhane Stud EBF Maiden.

Fourth on her debut in testing conditions at Navan, the daughter of Fayruz showed the benefit of that experience and the better surface.

Declan McDonogh had her out like a shot and Inzone kept going to hold the James Burns-trained newcomer, Celeberry, by half a length.

McDonogh completed a double when previously once-raced Ela Enta landed the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Fillies Maiden.

Produced to lead a furlong and a half out, she stayed on powerfully to beat John Oxx’s newcomer, Joshua’s Princess.

Dermot Weld’s Crazy Volume went off a strong favourite, but looked less than enthusiastic in the straight after holding every chance.

Tom McCourt, who does really well with some ordinary horses, struck when Copper Dock won the Derrinstown Stud Apprentice Handicap.

He swept through late for Amy Kathleen Parsons to beat Nell’s Girl a length. Copper Dock was a 20-1 shot, while Nell’s Girl, returned at 10-1, was backed at 20’s in the morning. For 21-year-old Parsons it was a sixth success, three of them coming for McCourt.

Asafa and David Moran continued Jim Bolger’s terrific start to the season when easing ahead over a furlong out to beat Blue Mouuntie with a bit to spare in the Sponsor A Race At Tipperary in 2007 Handicap.

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