Just A Par looks well above par

Kilavullen-based owner/trainer TJ Nagle appears to have an outstanding prospect on his hands in the form of Just A Par as the son of the Grand Lodge-sired stallion Island House destroyed the opposition under Richard O’Dea in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden at yesterday’s well-attended Galway Hunt point-to-point fixture at Dartfield outside Loughrea.

Just A Par (6/4), an eye catching second on his initial outing behind Cecil Corbett at Dromahane last season, always travelled with purpose towards the head of affairs in this 14-runner contest and he eased through to pick up the running on the lengthy run between the final two fences. It was all plain sailing from here with the victorious bay duly accounting for ‘Shark’ Hanlon’s newcomer Rare Legend by a ridiculously easy six lengths in the style of a probable bumper winner. It’s worth recalling that subsequent Cheltenham festival winner Brindisi Breeze triumphed in a division of this same race 12 months ago.

Nagle was otherwise engaged at Limerick, but he later remarked by phone: “This fellow is a cracking horse and I’m told that Richard (O’Dea) gave him a very good ride today. He has been working with some of my good horses and we will probably go for a winners race with him now.”

Likewise, the Ted Walsh-trained newcomer Foxrock (7/4) created a hugely favourable impression by landing the opening four-year-old maiden under her handler’s daughter Katie Walsh.

A physically-imposing son of Flemensfirth, Foxrock led or disputed practically throughout and he readily saw off Minellahalfcentury from before the final fence to oblige by two lengths in the familiar Barry Connell silks. The likelihood is that Foxrock, bought by agent Gerry Hogan at last year’s Doncaster breeze up sale at Newbury racecourse in late-November, will now take in a maiden hurdle.

The Eugene O’Sullivan-trained Pocket Reader (6/1) came home as he pleased in the hands of his owner Irene Walsh in the winners of three.

Pocket Reader, who captured the winners race at last season’s Carrigtwohill fixture in the hands of Ms Walsh’s husband Fergus O’Connor, went clear from the second last to defeat recent Rathcannon scorer Olor by ten lengths.

There was yet another lady-rider success in the novice riders’ open with Annie Bowles steering her fiancée Gordon Elliot’s Nedzer’s Return (evens) to an authoritative success.

Nedzer’s Return, a former five-time track winner, supplemented his success at Castletown-Geoghegan the previous Sunday by leading from half-way to slam Sang Bleu by 12 lengths.

Derek O’Connor rarely leaves this right-handed venue empty-handed and the nine-time champion struck aboard Robert Tyner’s well-supported Girl In Blue (2/1 – evens) in the five-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden.

Girl In Blue, still travelling strongly when falling two out in Ballinahow Star’s Dromahane maiden back in March, effortlessly took up the running before the final fence to beat Sing A New Song by ten lengths in the colours of her Bandon-based breeder Kevin Barry.

O’Connor was denied a double when his mount Native Court lost out by a half-length to Aidan Kennedy’s Back Door Approach (6/1), the mount of ‘Corky’ Carroll, in a desperately close finish to the concluding six-year-old and upwards geldings’ maiden.

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