Takeover Bid gets O’Callaghan off the mark

NIALL O’CALLAGHAN, who trained at Louisville, Kentucky for 28 years, enjoyed a first success in his native country when Takeover Bid landed the Newmarket Handicap at Cork yesterday.

O’Callaghan is now based at Kilmichael, Co Cork, has been training in Ireland for about a year and has 20 horses in his care.

The impressive Ben Curtis was in the plate and gave the four-year-old a tremendous drive.

Takeover Bid made most of the running and was kept going through the final furlong in fine style by Curtis, as Dotada constantly threatened danger.

Commented O’Callaghan: “I have been struggling to get the distances right for the horses, it is completely different here compared to America. I left when I was 18-years of age and my horses won $27m in America.”

One of O’Callaghan’s biggest successes stateside was with On A Soap Box, who landed the American Oaks at Belmont Park (New York) in 1999.

The Tommy Stack-trained Celerina, beaten a short head by Patrickswell on the track previously, made no mistake when streaking away with the five furlongs Scarteen Handicap.

Partnered by Wayne Lordan, fresh from his brilliant Group 1 success at York aboard 100-1 shot Sole Power, the three-year-old tracked the pace for much of the trip.

Heading to the furlong pole, however, Lordan made his move and had a willing partner in the three-year-old.

The daughter of Choisir soon powered into the lead and stretched away to beat Flash McGahon an easy two lengths.

Fozzie Stack represented his father and said: “She’s improving and getting the hang of it. We will see what Mr O’Gorman (handicapper) does before making plans.”

Declan’s Warrior, ninth of 16 first time out at Cork, stepped way up on that effort – fitted with blinkers – to take the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Maiden for two-year-olds.

Dermot Weld’s charge made all of the running, finding plenty for Pat Smullen pressure to resist newcomer, Maundays Bay, by half a length.

Said Smullen: “He disappointed me a bit the first day, but that was his first run. Blinkers helped and he had it won in the first furlong, rather than the last. He’s a speedy horse and, hopefully, will build on this.”

Smullen was quite brilliant when joining Weld again to land the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Median Auction Maiden with Honey Of A Kitten.

Third behind Hasty Katie at Galway, connections clearly decided staying was the name of the game as far as the daughter of Kitten’s Joy was concerned.

She made every yard of the running and kept finding for Smullen’s driving all the way up the straight to repel the challenge of the tail-swishing Warning Flag.

Given the day that was in it, the David Marnane-trained The Grey Rebel proved an appropriate winner of the Gortnagross Maiden.

She is owned by the ten-member Rebels Forever Syndicate, who mainly come from the Glanworth-Fermoy area, and are headed by Glanworth man, Kevin Hannon. Said a delighted Hannon: “I bred him myself, I have the dam.”

Colm O’Donoghue sent the son of Tagula ahead well over a furlong down and he eased away to beat My Girl Anna and the well-named, A Mind Of Her Own!”

Two of the possibilities for the Fermoy Race didn’t meet the engagement, leaving just three runners.

Aidan O’Brien’s Await The Dawn, making a belated seasonal debut, was sent off a short-priced favourite and did the business with the minimum of fuss.

Taken to the front early in the straight by Johnny Murtagh, the Giant’s Causeway colt only had to be pushed out to beat Zerashan.

Tom Hogan continued his excellent campaign when Blackwitch Woman won the Mount Hillary Handicap.

Successful at Tipperary previously, the Galileo mare had the very worst of the draw, but that was quickly solved by Seamus Heffernan.

He soon had her bowling along in front and Blackwitch Woman never flinched in the closing stages to beat Talkin Kate a head.

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