Jockey Michael O’Sullivan is certainly making an impact in the early weeks of his career in the paid ranks and he followed up a spectacular double in Listowel on Friday by sharing a double with trainer Barry Connell in Roscommon, including his first graded success on board Enniskerry in the Grade Three Ballymore Group Kilbegnet Novice Chase.
An eight-year-old Jeremy gelding, Enniskerry had made a winning start to his chasing career in Galway and confirmed the form here, beating Midnight Run again, with top-weight Sole Pretender a creditable third, with winning rider O’Sullivan unable to claim his 7lb allowance in this graded event.
Connell’s charge scored by four and three-quarter lengths, prompting his trainer to state: “He never won a bumper, but chasing was always going to be his game. He’s very slick to jump and the Galway form has worked out again.
“Since Galway, the (Grade One) Drinmore has been the aim, but he’ll probably take in a Grade Three at Cork next month before going there. The ideal thing would be to keep him going until Christmas, give him a break in January and February and have him for the spring. He’ll have no problem with two and a half miles on a flat track.”
Asked about winning rider O’Sullivan, Connell responded: “Michael is the next superstar. He’s in three days a week and will be riding all of mine. He didn’t look like a 7lb claimer out there.”
Connell and O’Sullivan had initiated their double when handicap debutant Low Style, unplaced in three maidens, struck off an initial mark of 90 in the Leo Dolan Memorial Handicap Hurdle.
On the mark with Rumi in Listowel on Saturday, Edward O’Grady struck again when four-year-old filly Betty Dutton, in the colours of his son Jonathan, landed the Thomas A Murray Bar Roscommon Mares Maiden Hurdle under Darragh O’Keeffe.
Having tracked the leaders, the Frozen Fire filly edged ahead after the fourth last and stayed on to beat She’s Tobias by a length and a half.
Keith Donoghue had an armchair ride on the shortest-priced favourite of the day, the Gavin Cromwell-trained Malina Girl in the mares’ beginners' chase, taking command four from home before cruising home a 14-length winner from Paidi’s Passion.
And, although receiving a two-day whip ban, amateur Patrick Cody savoured his first success when partnering 28-1 newcomer Quaresome, owned and trained by Kieran Purcell, to a gutsy win in the bumper.
Meanwhile, Chris Hayes dominated Down Royal’s Flat card, registering a superb 344-1 four-timer, all of his winners coming for different trainers.
Hayes kicked off on board Eddie Lynam’s Gobi Star, beaten on the nod over course and distance last time and described by his rider as “learning on the job”, in the five-furlong Madri Excepcional Maiden.
He was on the mark again on Jack Davison’s All In The Hips, who readily reversed recent Naas form with favourite Wakai Umi in the Molson Coors Nursery.
Probably the highlight of his haul was the victory of the Noel Meade-trained Encosta in the Irish EBF Auction Series Fillies 2-Y-0 Maiden, the daughter of Mukhadram building on her second to a 909-rated rival at Naas last time by powering clear in the final furlong to slam Alabama Pearl by two and a half lengths.
Meade, who had initiated an across-the-card double with Black Hawk Eagle (Simon Torrens) in the opening maiden hurdle in Roscommon, said: “She’s a big filly, improving with every run and she’ll handle soft ground. She won well and will go for the final of this series in Naas next month and that’ll be it until the spring.”
Hayes completed a memorable day when bringing Gegenpressing from well off the pace to foil Fastman in the seven-furlong Molson Coors Handicap, providing Eddie and Patrick Harty with the second leg of a quick across-the-card double, sparked by the Sean Flanagan-ridden Lily Light Foot in the three-mile Class Grass Handicap Hurdle in Roscommon.
And, off the track since winning his maiden at Leopardstown in June and wearing first-time blinkers, Como Park landed the finale, the Molson Coors Handicap, for Joseph O’Brien and Declan McDonogh.