Thursday's racing at Tramore wasn’t much to write home about, but management and staff deserve plenty of credit for attracting a big crowd to the venue. Following on from Listowel’s lead, as young and old combined to make a great atmosphere for a midweek meeting, this was another positive step in the right direction as we move towards a return to normality.
It was fitting, then, that local trainer Declan Queally was quick off the mark, taking the www.tramoreraces.ie Maiden Hurdle with Young Fitzy, and later doubling up with Owenacurra Lass.
Young Fitzy was held up in midfield for much of the journey by Darragh O’Keeffe before making rapid headway coming down the hill for the final time. Narrowly in front over the last two, he was pushed hard by She Is A Contender, but O’Keeffe always looked to have enough in hand to hold that one’s challenge.
“It ran a bit disappointing in a bumper, but I don’t think he travelled up to Downpatrick that day,” explained Declan Queally, son of the licence holder of the same name. “Darragh rode him in Galway, and he liked the horse, and he said we’d come here.”
Queally was in the saddle to complete the double in the Tramore Racecourse On Instagram Handicap Hurdle. Prominent throughout, Owenacurra Lass quickened up to go a few lengths clear off the top bend and dug in deep to hold the late effort of Capture The Action. It was a fifth winner from 13 runners this month for the in-form Cappagh trainer.
“She had a good run in a bumper here and won a maiden hurdle here on New Year’s Day, nearly two years ago,” said Queally, of his mare who has won twice and finished runner-up twice in four runs here. “She gives everything and is really gutsy. She’s nippy and quick, and is agile, so she’s good around the bends. I must give a word to Pat Crowley, who owns her along with David (Needham). He had her up to a month ago, and did all the work with her, so it’s more him than me.”
Darragh O’Keeffe, successful in the first, completed his own double when making every yard of the running aboard Tisadream in the Pickardstown Rated Novice Chase. Representing local trainer Henry De Bromhead, for whom O’Keeffe was riding his 11th winner of the season, Tisadream jumped markedly left on occasion, but found extra close home to fend off the persistent challenge of Chesterville.
There was also a double on the card for rider Mark McDonagh, the first leg of which came aboard the Mark Fahey-trained Coolnacritta in the Adrmore Handicap Hurdle. Runner-up on his first start for Fahey, and a winner second time of asking, this was a nice performance to follow up under top weight. McDonagh sent him on after the fourth-last and he was in control thereafter.
“He’s an improving horse, and we like him,” said Fahey, “But it’s important he’s in that 95 bracket. This was his last chance to run in it, off his penalty, so we’re delighted. He’s not the biggest, so I knew he’d nip around this place. The only concern was whether he was going to be quick enough to travel over two miles or not, especially around here, but he was.”
For the second leg of McDonagh’s double, Nell’s Well landed the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares’ Maiden. The Sean O’Brien-trained seven-year-old, having her first run in more than six months, got a little warm pre-race, but it didn’t affect her performance. Dropped out early, she made rapid progress to be in a challenging position leaving the back for the final time. When favourite Broomfield Hall began to backpedal, it was left to Nell’s Well, Motown Maggie and Majestic Jewel to fight it out. The last-named fell at the final hurdle, leaving the other two to battle it out, and it was winning point-to-point mare Nell’s Well who found most to secure a first success inside the rails.
To bring up the fourth double on the card, Willie Mullins took the last two races, starting with Recite A Prayer in the Waterford Greenway Beginners’ Chase. A point to point winner, he was making his chasing debut here and, after drifting back off the pace at one point, he came through again to lead at the second-last under Danny Mullins and won a shade cosily.
Mullins completed his double when Tempo Chapter Two landed the odds in the lady riders’ bumper. It wasn’t plain sailing for the 2-7 chance but Jody Townend delivered him with a well-timed run to lead off the final bend and he battled on to see off the game She Is Electric.