Two ladies dominated day two in Killarney, Maxine O’Sullivan ensuring a day to remember for her family when winning aboard Citizen Al before doubling up in the bumper, aboard the gambled-on Raya Time, and Rachael Blackmore also completing a brace, aboard Icantsay and Benkei.
O’Sullivan claimed the first leg of her double when getting a great tune out of her father Eugene’s Citizen Al in the M D O’Shea & Sons Mares’ Maiden Hurdle.
Sapphire Lady led most of the way and traded at 1.01 in running, but she made a bad mistake at the last and was soon collared by Citizen Al.
“We’re not shocked but a little surprised as the ground dried up so much,” said the delighted winning trainer. “She ran very well when staying on Limerick the last day but today we thought she’d be caught for toe because of the ground.
“This win means a lot. It’s the last horse my father bred, and the first horse owned by my brother, William, and his son Alan, after whom the horse is named. And Maxine gave her a great ride, so we couldn’t be happier – it’s a real family story.”
And O’Sullivan was at her confident best aboard the Sam Curling-trained Raya Time in the Celtic Steps Show Lady Riders’ Bumper.
There were shades of the same race last year when Curling’s Summerville Boy landed a huge gamble before being sold to race in England, where he won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Brought with a great run by O’Sullivan he was, arguably, more impressive that last year’s winner, but will have to go a long way to emulating his former stable companion.
“He’s a good horse and his work was always good,” said Curling. “He was ready to run in the autumn but, in fairness to his owner, Nicky Teehan, he gave him plenty of time. The horse got a lot stronger through the winter and will be sold now.”
Trainer Harry Rogers and owner Jerry Nolan are enjoying a purple patch, and Benkei helped continue that run when taking the Easy Clean Limited Handicap Hurdle, to provide Blackmore with the first leg of her double.
Stepping in to replace Phillip Enright, who was stood down before racing, she had her mount in perfect position throughout. He travelled strongly to take the lead in the straight and ran on well to beat Just Get Cracking by a little more than three lengths.
Of the winning owner, for whom Rogers also rode winners, he added: “If I had a few more owners like Jerry I’d be very happy. He’s been lucky, and he has two very nice horses (Benkei and Lord Erskine).”
Blackmore completed her near 76-1 double when taking one of the twin features, the Laurels Pub & Restaurant Killarney National, aboard the John Ryan-trained Icantsay.
In front rank from the outset, he looked in trouble two out when he was shuffled back to a share of third place, but he responded well to Blackmore’s pressure to get back up late to beat Thanks For Tea by three parts of a length.
The Grade Three Beaufort Golf Club An Riocht Chase was the other feature on the card and the Barry Geraghty-ridden Ballyoisin again showed his liking for the track when leading all the way, as he did on his previous visit here.
“He is an improving horse and ground is the key, and it came right at the right time,” said winning trainer Enda Bolger. “He got a lovely ride from Barry and jumps like a stag out of that ground.
“He has a very high cruising speed and is rated up there now, so we have to go for these types of races with him. We will discuss plans now but he might be vulnerable coming up that Galway hill for the Galway Plate. He’s a speedy fellow and we’ll follow the prizemoney with him.”
Henry De Bromhead bemoaned the fact he must be getting old after watching Eamon High win the opening race, the Killarney Racegoers Club Maiden Hurdle, as he also trained the winner’s dam, Gabrona, to win a similar race at this venue, in 2006.
“I’m getting old now, I trained her mother,” said De Bromhead, after watching his charge record a nose victory over favourite As You Were. “Barry Geraghty won a maiden hurdle on her here many moons ago. Delighted to get him to win – he’s as tough as his mother, he battled well and got a lovely ride from Dylan (Robinson).
Voix Du Reve earned a long overdue first victory since joining Willie Mullins when he made all the running for a facile victory in the Kelly Brothers Sliabh Luachra Hurdle.
Minella For Value ran out a very easy winner of the Dan Linehan’s Bar and B & B Hunters’ Chase for jockey Declan Queally and his father, Declan.
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