Now Ben bolts up in maiden

Colman Sweeney received the ideal boost ahead of partnering Salsify in the Cheltenham Foxhunters in a little under two weeks time by steering Garrett Ahern’s newcomer Now Ben to a hugely-impressive success in the first division of the five-year-old geldings’ maiden at yesterday’s West Waterford Foxhounds point-to-point meeting at Lismore.

On a bitterly cold afternoon, Massinis Adventure took the 13 runners along until challenged by the uneasy favourite Amergin with three fences remaining. Some four horses still held prospects two out until Now Ben (6/1) stormed into the lead on the ascent from this penultimate obstacle. Massinis Adventure was three lengths adrift in second spot and making no impression on the winning son of Beneficial when falling at the final fence and his demise enabled Amergin to secure the runner-up spot, seven lengths adrift.

“This is a proper horse that we bought at last year’s Goffs Land Rover sale. He holds an entry in the Land Rover bumper and that’s the route that we will probably go now,” reported Bartlemy-based Ahern of Now Ben, representing the five-member The Try Again Syndicate.

The biggest cheer of the afternoon was reserved for Jimmy Mangan’s admirable veteran Rudi Trucker (5/2) who readily put his rivals to the sword in the open lightweight.

Rudi Trucker always travelled with purpose and he moved through to join issue with the pacesetting pair of Fort George and Frontier Lady on the run to two out. In truth, it was all plain sailing from here as the winning 11-year-old powered clear to effortlessly contain Fort George and by doing so, he was recording his tenth points success in the familiar colours of the Conna Enclosure Syndicate. The probability is that Rudi Trucker will revert to handicap chase company after one more outing in points.

Rudi Trucker’s partner Damian Murphy was earlier on the mark aboard Mark Molloy’s Bishops Road (4/1) in the second division of the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.

Bishops Road, who pulled up on his initial outing at Belharbour four weeks earlier, took up the running before the third last and he powered clear on the approach to the final fence to beat Breezy Kin by an unextended 12 lengths in the style of a horse that should go on to make a big name for himself on the racetrack. The Heron Island-sired Bishops road is owned by his Thurles-based breeder Pat Morrissey in partnership with his cousin-in-law Adam Lloyd from London.

Larry Murphy similarly partnered two winners, the Knockanard amateur getting off the mark aboard the gambled-on Pressies Girl (7/2 – 5/4) in the five-year-old mares’ maiden. The Donie Murphy-trained Pressies Girl, a pleasing sixth on her debut at Askeaton three weeks earlier, made smooth progress from mid-division to pick up the running before the final fence and she stayed-on stoutly to defeat long-time leader Needed The Run by a neck in what was the closest finish of the afternoon.

The Pat Barry-trained grey Our Katie (4/1) completed the talented Murphy’s brace by capturing the mares’ winners of two. Our Katie, a facile victress at Aghabullogue in January, eased to the front after the second last to beat the hat-trick seeking Forever Eva by five lengths. Barry, land-owner of the Bartlemy point-to-point course, later suggested that he may aim his wife Eileen’s Our Katie at the Gain Mares’ Final in Ballynoe next month.

Declan Queally made his initial mount for the absent Gordon Elliot, also on the mark with Backstage at Tinahely, a winning one by returning to the coveted number one slot aboard newcomer Akorakor (7/1) in the opening four-year-old maiden. The French-bred Akorakor took up the running after the fourth last and he duly coasted home 12 lengths clear of long-time leader Final Assault. Akorakor is incidentally the third horse that Elliot has sent out to win a point for owners’ Gigginstown House Stud this term.

Mikey O’Connor excelled by bringing Paul Tobin’s Kilbree Kid (2/1), an excellent third to subsequent British track winner Benvolio at Ballynoe last season, from off the pace to comfortably defeat the mare Cove in the closing confined hunt maiden. The six-year-old Kilbree Kid sports the silks of Cappoquin-based James Collinder, also the owner of Tobin’s recent Tallow maiden winner Kilbree Chief.

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