And Louis Archdeacon’s mare lit up yesterday’s Kilworth and Araglen Harriers point-to-point fixture at Ballynalacken by making all the running with 19-year-old Stella McGrath to claim victory in the novice riders’ open lightweight.
Also successful at Ballyvodock and Knockanard last month, Eala Beag (4/1), who was fitted with cheekpieces, was sent to the front from flagfall and she gave a supremely-polished display of jumping throughout.
Favourite Drawn N Drank tried to mount a challenge from three out, but Eala Beag was in no mood to denied and she stayed on grimly in the closing stages to eclipse Sam Curling’s pointing debutant Grand Gold by a half-length with a three parts of a length break to veteran Pay The Bounty in third spot.
“She seems to thrive on her racing and there’s a mares’ open at Dromahane in two weeks time. She may well run there before going to Cork on Easter Monday,” said handler Archdeacon of Eala Beag, whom he trains for his wife Michelle and Miss McGrath’s mother Jacqueline.
There was yet another close finish in the opening four-year-old geldings’ maiden with Roisin Hickey’s Champagne Classic (5/1) making a stylish winning debut in the hands of Declan Queally. The Stowaway-sired Champagne Classic, a graduate of the 2014 Goffs Land Rover sale, made smooth progress from two out to challenge long-time leader Kalondra and Bull Ride on the run to the final of the 13 obstacles. Although none too clever here, the mid-April foal Champagne Classic still led inside the final 50 yards to beat favourite Bull Ride, who made a horrendous fifth-last fence blunder, by a half-length. The likelihood is that Champagne Classic won’t be in Ms Hickey’s ownership for much longer.
Pa King was the only rider to partner two winners, the Holycross native completing his brace aboard owner/trainer John Halley’s grey Fly Camp (8/1) in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden. The previously once-raced Fly Camp always travelled with purpose and he moved through to challenge runner-up Champagne George from two out. If anything, TJ Nagle’s Champagne George appeared to be travelling marginally the stronger on the approach to the last. Fly Camp however bravely rose his effort on the flat and he asserted over 50 yards out to score by a half length.
King was earlier on the mark aboard Ducloyne Lady (3/1 – 5/2), whom Harry Kelly trains for Corkonian James Walsh, in the five and six-year-old mares’ maiden. Ducloyne Lady, an excellent third on her debut at Belclare last season, assumed command after two out and she was already containing Gold Doubloons when the market leader blundered at the final fence with two lengths then separating the pair. Ducloyne Lady will now contest a mares’ winners race.
Gold Doubloons handler Sean O’Brien and rider Ciaran Fennessy then combined to collect the three-runner adjacent hunts maiden with the mare Caballo Sin Nombre (2/1), yet another winner that was equipped with cheekpieces. Caballo Sin Nombre made virtually all the running except that she seemed to have a major battle on her plate when Trixiebarry loomed up menacingly going to two out. Trixiebarry however didn’t quite find as much as expected as Caballo Sin Nombre bravely responded to pressure to oblige by a length in the colours of The Robinsons Syndicate. Fennessy was in trouble though for his use of the whip on Caballo Sin Nombre as he was found to have used it with excessive frequency and he was suspended for two days - Saturday and Sunday March 21st and 22nd.
Damian Murphy made his only ride of the day a winning one aboard Dr Joe O’Keeffe’s Hard Station (7/2) in the closing six-year-old and upwards geldings’ maiden, a race incidentally in which two fences were bypassed.
Hard Station, a creditable sixth on his only previous points start at Boulta in December, was bounced out in front and he gave a superb display of fencing en-route to bounding clear from three out to dismiss newcomer All Kings by an unextended 15 lengths. The likelihood is that Hard Station, will now contest the point-to-point bumper at Cork on Easter Monday.