Clonmel report: Double delight for John Ryan, Shane Fitzgerald wins on first ride as a professional

Danny Mullins also strikes twice
Clonmel report: Double delight for John Ryan, Shane Fitzgerald wins on first ride as a professional

Jockey Shane Fitzgerald with Fort William after winning the Clonmel Racecourse Supporters’ Club Rated Novice Hurdle for trainer John Ryan.  Picture: Healy Racing

Templemore trainer John Ryan made the perfect start to Thursday's Clonmel card with an almost 112-1 double, the second leg of which provided Shane Fitzgerald a winner on his first ride as a professional.

Bonarc, who won a maiden on her first start of last season but subsequently lost the race, got this season off to a winning start with an all-the-way victory in the Ancient East Mares’ Maiden Hurdle. She jumped quite high on occasions but, under a well-judged ride by Danny Mullins, was never in danger of relinquishing her position.

“It was very unlucky for the owners to lose the race,” said winning trainer Ryan, referring to the Roscommon disqualification. “It ruined her season last year, we were always chasing our tail afterwards. I think she’s a cracking mare. Her brother, Ferdia, won well (on debut) the other day, at Ballinrobe. She’ll go down the novice route.” 

Fort William, ridden by Fitzgerald, completed Ryan’s double with a strong finish in the Clonmel Racecourse Supporters’ Club Rated Novice Hurdle. The complexion of the race changed late on as narrow leader Don Diablo crashed out just after the last flight, leaving the winner to race on strongly up the hill to beat Coulonces.

Ryan said: “It was Shane’s first ride as a professional jockey. He comes into me a few days a week. He’s going to be top-class — there’s a big future ahead of him.

“That’s a brilliant horse, his home work is absolutely brilliant, and he brought it to the races today, thank God. It was no shock to us, and probably the ground helped. He won easy, and Shane gave him a brilliant ride.” 

There was an exciting finish to the Clonacody Maiden Hurdle, in which Julies Stowaway bobbed at the right moment to deny Fissa. The two had a good buckle all the way up the straight and could hardly be separated. The exchanges offered evens each of two on the photo, but it was Julies Stowaway, trained by Mags Mullins, who shaded the verdict to give Danny Mullins a double on the card.

Feel Des Mottes wasn’t winning out of turn when coming home clear in the Team Powerstown Handicap Hurdle. 

As winning rider Sean Flanagan said post-race, he is a difficult ride as he can be very keen, but this was him at his best. The six-year-old, trained by Liz Doyle, took over leaving the back for the final time and stretched clear to win readily.

Punters Poet lost his long-standing maiden tag with a good performance in first division of the Sliabh Na mBan Handicap Hurdle. 

Trained in Co Meath by Matthew Smith, the six-year-old came here with a record of zero from 18 but, under a patient and confident ride by Keith Donoghue, he got off the mark. Allora Yeats moved to the front in the straight, but Donoghue waited until after the last to mount a telling challenge which prevailed by half a length.

Straffan trainer Alan Donoghue saddled his first winner on the track when Sky Tenor raced clear to win the second division of the Sliabh Na mBan Handicap Hurdle under JJ Slevin.

“I’d like to dedicate the win to two men, Sean Coyle and Vincent Slattery, who passed away in the last couple of months,” said Donoghue.

“And I’d like to say a big thanks to my partner, Danielle Deveney, who rides him out every day, and does unbelievable work. We have 20 horses in and there’s only myself and herself, and I couldn’t do it without her.

“We’ve trained a few point-to-point winners, but this is our first winner on the track. We buy and sell horses — that’s our main job. I used to be a jockey and was then a jockeys’ agent, but I’m doing what I love now.” 

Doldido, trained by Mick Winters, caused a 20-1 upset in the Suir Blueway Handicap Hurdle. Luke Dempsey’s mount looked at the mercy of the favourite, Oneknightmoreihope, when that one travelled up strongly coming down the hill for the final time. 

However, Doldido, who had been up front throughout, refused to buckle, and battled on gamely all the way to the line to win by half a length.

The Willie Mullins-trained Zuma Rock, who was beaten at odds-on on debut at the Galway festival 2020 and well beaten next time, made a winning return to action in the Next Race Meeting Friday June 11 Mares’ Bumper. Patrick Mullins delivered his mount with a well-timed challenge to collar Cool Rain inside the final half-furlong.

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