The first point-to-point of the season in the Cork region took place on Saturday on the site of the Cork agricultural show at Curraheen.
Run under the auspices of the Muskerry Foxhounds, the meeting was plagued by extremely blustery weather conditions . That though will have mattered little to owner/rider Irene Walsh who steered the admirable Pocket Reader, trained by her brother-in-law Eugene O’Sullivan, to a facile success in the open lightweight.
In a race that saw just three runners, Pocket Reader (4/6) tracked the frontrunning Frontier Lady until joining issue with six fences remaining. The eventual winner, a fine third on his return to the fray at Loughrea almost three weeks earlier, led away from the fourth last and he duly defeated Sheila Ahern’s mount Frontier Lady by 15 lengths.
“The run at Loughrea brought him on a fair bit and he will now go to Affane in two weeks time,” said handler O’Sullivan of Pocket Reader, who was sampling his seventh success ‘between the flags’.
The David Finn-trained Doctor Phoenix (4/1) impressed by returning to the coveted number one slot on his seasonal debut in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden. Doctor Phoenix, who fell four out on his only previous start in a vintage Killeagh contest won by Festive Affair last term, went to the front with Mikey O’Connor after the fourth last. The physically imposing son of Dr Massini ultimately fought off Fade In by seven lengths, despite jumping out to his right at the final fence. Doctor Phoenix is likely to be offered for sale by his Shanballymore-based breeder John O’Donovan in the near future.
Monageer, Co Wexford handler Michael Goff was credited with his initial training success courtesy of Clondaw Banker (4/1) in the opening four-year-old maiden. Clondaw Banker, who failed to complete the course on his two previous starts, stormed to the front with last season’s champion novice rider Harley Dunne at the second last and he returned with five lengths to spare over William Codd’s The Well Road. Clondaw Banker’s owner Fran Fenlon missed the occasion as he was away holidaying in Barbados.
It can be argued that Eamonn Fehily’s Moss Grove (4/1) posted a definite career best performance by triumphing in the winners of one.
The towering Moss Grove, who was all out to land a Bandon confined hunt maiden back in February, took up the running before the penultimate of the 13 obstacles and he stayed on dourly for Declan Queally to thwart the relatively-unexposed Clontead Cross by one and a half lengths. A hunters chase is likely to feature at some stage for Moss Grove, representing the Dun Drinan Syndicate which comprises Henry All from Crookstown and Ballincollig’s Eddie Kenneally.
‘Corky’ Carroll is experiencing a fine campaign and the Charleville native was witnessed to excellent effect by bringing Joey Casey’s Blue Bell Walk (2/1) with a well-timed challenge from mid-division to oblige in the five-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden.
Blue Bell Walk made her way to the front at the second last and she knuckled down bravely from the last to beat Shesaportrait by a length. Former professional jockey Casey, who operates from Croom, has now won with all three horses that he has in run in points this autumn for Border Breaker (since bought by David Pipe) collected a four-year-old maiden on his debut at Castletown-Geoghegan last month whilst Driftashore was most impressive in a Lemonfield maiden last weekend.
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