Apprentice jockey Ronan Whelan savoured a fairytale on the third day of the Listowel Harvest Festival as he recorded only his second ever win in the showpiece Irish Stallion Farms EBF Premier Nursery.
He cut out all the running on Puncher Clynch and piloted the Jim Bolger-trained juvenile with a confidence that belied his young age.
The well-backed Joshua Tree, who encountered plenty of difficulty in-running, could only get to within three-quarters of a length of the winner.
Ruari O’Coileain, representing the winning owners, said, “He won at Galway, where the conditions were unbelievably tough, so we knew he’d stay.
“He’s a gutsy horse, and Ronan gave him a great ride.”
Half an hour later, promising young apprentice Danny Mullins landed another pacemaking success on Paul Cashman’s Rebel Aclaim in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF (Fillies) Handicap.
The filly has always demonstrated plenty of fight when asked to fulfil front-running tactics, and displayed tremendous spirit to battle past Drombeg Dawn after that rival appeared to hold an advantage.
Cashman said of the 11-1 winner: “She likes dictating things, and the bit of fresh ground was a help.
“If she gets into a handicap here on Saturday then she could run again.”
Inexperience was no obstacle for Pirans Rock (25-1) on her racecourse debut as she landed a shock victory in the opening O´Callaghan Family Hotel EBF Maiden.
The Rock Of Gibraltar filly, based at Paul Deegan’s County Kildare yard, hit the front a furlong out under a determined William Supple and kept gamely to the task, holding off Big Occasion by a neck.
Supple said: “I thought she might be a bit green but she went to the start well, so I was happy she would run a good race.
“She should improve quite a bit from that run.”
Mujaazef landed odds of 8-11 with a facile victory in the Jet O´Carroll Memorial Median Auction Maiden.
Although Kevin Prendergast’s colt was still searching for a debut victory at the fifth time of asking, he delivered in some style, tracking the leaders before effortlessly exerting inside the final furlong.
Kristal Komet nicked second with a late lunge, three lengths behind the winner.
Foolish Ambition (8-11 favourite) had to dig deep to produce victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden for David Wachman and Wayne Lordan.
Tom McCourt’s Zhukhov (5-1 joint-favourite) then pounced late to win the Brandon Hotel Handicap under a well-timed run by claimer Ben Curtis.