Cantlow rises to the challenge in Killarney National

Day two of Killarney’s May festival proved one for the second-strings, highlighted by Cantlow’s last-gasp victory in the featured McSweeney Arms Hotel Killarney National. After runner-up finishes in each of the last two years, it was a welcome change of luck for winning trainer Enda Bolger.

The JP McManus-owned 8-1 chance, whose stable companion, Federici, went off the 10-3 favourite, was settled out the back by Mark Walsh, and remained there until the final four furlongs of the three-mile-two handicap chase.

Your Busy had set a strong gallop from the outset, but was still in front turning for home, where the challengers began to queue up. He looked vulnerable from that point but, much to his credit, stayed on so strongly it took a rousing finish from Cantlow, just fifth jumping the last, to deny him victory, by half a length.

“It was great to have a sub,” said Bolger. “Mark said they went so fast, he just sat out and took his time. Federici was the horse we were fancying, but he didn’t seem to get home, with the gallop.

“Where do we go from here with the winner? He’ll have to get an entry in the Galway Plate, he stays so well. I was second in the last two years, with Federici last year and Love Rory the year before, so it’s nice to get it.”

In the Grade Three Laurels Pub and Restaurant An Riocht Chase, the lesser fancied of two runners from the Gordon Elliott stable, 10-3 chance Clarcam, justified considerable support when leading home stable mate The Game Changer (8-11) for a Gigginstown House Stud one-two.

Viconte Du Noyer set out to make all, but looked in trouble as the eventual winner loomed large in the straight. Clarcam, the mount of Jack Kennedy, jumped to the front at the second-last and ran on well under pressure to hold the late effort of The Game Changer by two-and-a-quarter lengths.

It was a similar story in the Kelly Brothers Sliabh Luachra Hurdle, when 9-1 chance Dressedtothenines left behind her recent disappointments over fences to lead home fellow JP McManus-owned runner Give Me A Break (7-1).

Representing trainer Eddie Harty and ridden by Mark Walsh, she led all the way and, after being all but joined at the third-last, stretched away again under pressure to win comfortably.

“That was a pleasant surprise,” said Frank Berry. “For whatever reason, she had been very disappointing over fences, so the plan was to run her over hurdles in the hope she would show more.

“The conditions of the race suited, as she was highly rated at one stage, and Mark said she loved the hurdles, and jumped like a buck.”

After winning a point to point and a bumper, the Terence O’Brien-trained Consharon Boy completed a treble by making a winning start over timber in the opening maiden hurdle.

Well-backed through the morning and afternoon, in the absence of some notable rivals, the six-year-old was sent off 2-1 second-favourite. In front or disputing the lead from an early stage, he responded well to David Splaine’s urgings to see off the persistent Buckeye Shan, the pair a long way clear.

Said the winning trainer: “He did it nicely today, and will go for a novice hurdle so long as the ground is okay. He can jump a fence as well, so hopefully there might be a good handicap in him some day.”

Trainer John Kiely, who picked up the feature on day one of the festival with Ancient Sands, was on the mark again, this time with Conduct Yourself in the Robin Parke Memorial Handicap Hurdle.

The King’s Theatre mare, returning from a six-month break, was patiently ridden by Brian Hayes before moving stylishly into contention turning for home. A mistake at the third-last cost her momentum, but she picked up against to lead shortly after the second-last, and then stayed on well to beat game veteran Ballyadam Brook.

“When the horses are in form, that’s the way it is,” said Kiely. “She looks like she has probably improved since last year. I wasn’t expecting her to run that well as I thought she’d need a run, but she’s obviously doing things right. Brian gave her an economical ride, I didn’t want her to have a hard race, and it worked out well.”

Cape City Boy was sent off the easy-to-back 7-4 favourite to land the M D O’Shea Maiden Hurdle, but Shark Hanlon’s horse belied his uneasiness in the market with a flag-fall-to-line victory. Although his jumping left room for improvement, he maintained his position throughout and stayed on well to see off Work De Breteau.

Said Hanlon: “He got the job done. He missed the fourth-last, otherwise he could have done it better.

“He’s a big, relaxed horse, a chaser in the making. We’ll probably go for a winners’ race, but he won’t have too many races over hurdles. He wants the ground on the soft side of good, and that’s what it was. He’ll stay in for the summer as he’s flat-bred – he’s a cheap Darley horse, which I seem to get on best with.”

Johnny Barry gave the Joe O’Keeffe-trained Hard Station a fine ride from the front in the Dan Linehan’s Bar and B&B Hunters’ Chase. Character Actor and the well-backed Mountain Lough were still heavily involved turning for home, but Barry drove his mount to a clear-cut success from the latter.

The easiest winner of the evening was Product Of Love, who made every yard of the running in the concluding bumper. Carrying the colours of Barry Connell, who enjoyed a double on the card following Cape City Boy’s earlier success, the Alan Fleming-trained gelding stormed clear up the straight to win by a proverbial mile.

“He was very impressive, he pricked his ears all the way around, and loved what he was doing,” said Fleming. “I thought Áine O’Connor gave him a super ride from the front, for a girl who hasn’t ridden a lot of bumper horses she was very professional on him. I’d say he won’t go anywhere now until the winners’ bumper in Galway.”


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