Princely Conn gets back in winning groove at Clonmel

Placed in Grade One company as a novice but without a success since October 2014, Princely Conn bounced back to winning form when landing the Clonmel Racecourse Supporters Club Guest Evening Hurdle in Clonmel last night.

Princely Conn gets back in winning groove at Clonmel

The Barry Geraghty-ridden seven-year-old got the better of Fearachain by two and a quarter lengths to continue the successful run being enjoyed by owner JP McManus and trainer Tom Mullins, who said: “He’s back in business — I didn’t think when I brought him in last August or September that we’d have to wait until May for him to win. It just hasn’t been his year.”

Trainer Eamonn ‘Dusty’ Sheehy recorded his first success in three years when Gunner McGregor, ridden by Keith Cogley, bolted up in the bumper, stretching clear to beat Callyerman by six lengths.

Sheehy said: “To be honest, I fancied him today. He ran well in Punchestown before I ever got him and did a nice piece of work last week.”

Sheehy admitted: “If it wasn’t for the two boys, Danny (champion pony rider) and Michael, I’d probably have given up this game. Danny is nearly 17 and will be spending the summer in Ballydoyle.

“It’s been very tough, but I have eight horses at the moment and I must decide whether to let this horse off for the summer or run him in a maiden hurdle.”

Gunner McGregor was a first winner in Ireland for his sire Aristotle, which stood in Australia for 11 years and is now based at Meelin Stud near Bandon.

A well-backed 7/2 shot, Black Warrior stretched clear to land the Clonacody Maiden Hurdle in good style for Charles Byrnes and Davy Russell, slamming Walkers Point by 11 lengths.

Byrnes said: “His bumper form was pretty good, but he lost his way. He had a few problems and I wasn’t sure if we had him back. The good ground definitely helped and we’ll keep him going for the summer, if the ground is on the fast side.”

Oisin James, trained by Denise O’Shea, followed-up a recent win at Tramore when capturing the three-mile handicap hurdle, continuing the tremendous form of 7lbs claimer Rachael Blackmore.

The winner confirmed Tramore form with Urtheoneiwant (third) and had a half-length to spare over top-weight Danali.

Left in front by favourite Belle Fortune’s mistake five from home, the Colin Bowe-trained Sarah Joyce, a dual winner on the flat for Pat Shanahan before being bought at the Horses-in-Training Sales, stayed on dourly to beat Emma Beag by three-quarters of a length in the opening Ancient East Mares Maiden Hurdle.

Winning rider Mark Walsh commented: “All she does is gallop and three miles will suit her. She jumped great, although it wasn’t ideal to be left in front so early.”

Local trainer Pat Flynn took special satisfaction from the victory of Dixie Highway (Mark Enright) in the Megs 80th Celebrations Handicap Hurdle.

Flynn said: “He’s owned by a schoolmate and neighbour of mine, Frank Terry, who is based in New York now.”

He added: “We’ve always though he was a very nice horse, so it’s great he’s won. And, if he comes out of the race well, you might see him again, on the flat, in Mallow tomorrow night.”

You Can’t Catch me, ridden for Kieran Purcell by Brian O’Connell, got up in the dying strides o foil gallant front-runner Cloudy Morning by a head in the first division of the Sliabh Na mBan Handicap Hurdle.

Purcell enthused: “He’s been crying out for that ground — he loves it. We’ll tip away over hurdles for the summer. He’ll jump a fence, no problem, in the future.”

The second division went to the Harry Kelly-trained mare Anna Holty, who got the better of Final Boru by a neck before surviving a stewards’ enquiry.

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