A run-of-the-mill meeting at Clonmel took an unexpected turn when the stewards reversed the placings of the first two home in the second race, the Kilmore Maiden Hurdle, leading to a dramatic series of events.
Little Folke passed the post a head in front of Solar Heat, but the two horses came close together on the run to the line and, on a review of the closing stages, the stewards deemed ‘it appeared Solar Heat received a number of strikes’ from the whip of the jockey of the first past the post, Davy Russell.
Following a lengthy enquiry, they decided to reverse the placings, and gave Russell a three-day ban for improper riding. The stewards then enquired into the conduct of Russell in the stewards’ room and gave him an additional 14 days.
A bad situation got even worse when the rider refused to take his two remaining mounts on the card and, for that, the issue was referred to the CEO of the Turf Club for further investigation.
The Dot Love-trained Solar Heat, a winner on the all-weather in 2014, earned a long overdue first success over timber, and brought jockey Rachael Blackmore’s tally for the season to 12.
A pleasant surprise to his trainer and a shock to punters was the verdict following the opening Laganore Maiden Hurdle won by newcomer Mr Nicolls, ridden by in-form jockey Danny Mullins for his father, Tony.
“He’s a horse with serious ability but we didn’t think he would be man enough to win today,” said the winning trainer. “We thought he’d run a good race and we’d come away from here thinking he might win the next day. His raw ability won it for him. We had planned to go back for a bumper, but that has been scuppered. We’ll go home and think about what’s next, but there’s certainly no rush with him.”
Winning rider Danny Mullins later completed a double when steering Dark Outsider, a 22-race maiden, to a first success, in the Tickincor Handicap Chase. The 4-1 chance, trained by James Dullea in Bandon, was prominent from the outset and, after swapping the lead with Massinis Adventure a number of times, asserted late for a comfortable victory.
“He hit the crossbar on a number of occasions, and had been unlucky on other occasions, so I’m delighted for his owners, from Crosshaven, who have stuck with him,” said Dullea.
Trade Marked, who made the breakthrough on the flat in July, secured a first victory over hurdles when strolling home in the Thorney Bridge Novice Handicap. Trained by Austin Leahy, he took his customary position out the back, travelled extremely well into the race, and quickened away when given the office by seven-pound claimer Eoin O’Connell.
“He ran poorly on the flat at Listowel, but that was on heavy ground, and the better ground suited today. I have no plans, but he may go back to the flat, and could run at Dundalk,” said Leahy.
Blackthorn Prince completed back-to-back victories when getting up late to land the Nire Valley Handicap Hurdle under Mark Walsh. Winning trainer Enda Bolger said: “We’ll try another three-mile hurdle when he’s in that frame of mind, and will go chasing then.
“He has a handicap mark over fences, and jumps well. He handicapped himself last year, but has been a hard horse to get right. He has also been around the cross-country course at Punchestown, so that could be an option for him next year.”
After losing the maiden hurdle in the stewards’ room, trainer Henry de Bromhead gained a modicum of compensation when Heron Heights asserted late to take the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Captain Christy Rated Novice Chase under Philip Enright.
The imposing Coolmeen Hill made a most impressive track debut when readily foiling a big gamble in the bumper.
Trained by Ellmarie Holden for her father, Paul, the five-year-old was brought wide for better ground by rider Jamie Codd, and stretched out in great style to race home clear of Carrigready, who was the subject of a late plunge, from 50-1 to 13-2.
Of the half-brother to Grade 1-winning novice chaser Sizing Granite, winning owner Paul Holden reported: “Jamie said he’s probably not a soft-ground horse, so we’ll be careful of what we do. We weren’t sure if the bumper route was the right way to go with him but, ultimately, jumping fences is what we’ll do with him.
“He may go straight over fences next year, but we’ll probably put him away for now and wait for better ground.”
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