Queen Blossom blooms on debut at Cork

Queen Blossom and Fran Berry winning the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Median Auction Maiden from Footbridge and Pat Smullen at Cork Racecourse, Mallow. Picture: Denis Minihane

Trainer Patrick Prendergast introduced a very promising filly, Queen Blossom, to make a winning debut in the median auction maiden on yesterday’s seven-race card at Cork.

Near the pace throughout, the 16-1 chance led in the straight, but looked set to finish second, as the well-backed Footbridge (4-1 to 6-4) edged ahead inside the final furlong.

However, Fran Berry, without having to resort to the whip, got a great response from his mount, who battled back to win by half a length.

Berry said: “She did it very well, she’s a tall, leggy filly, very unfurnished, but travelled very well and showed a good bit of heart. Being by Jeremy, she handled the ground very well and, when she got headed, she never flinched.”

Of the winner, who held a Moyglare entry but had a season interrupted by ringworm and muscle problems, Prendergast said: “She’s going to improve hugely, as nothing has gone right for her this year. We’ll see how she comes out of this, but I wouldn’t think there’ll be much more from her this season. She has a very good action, and I think she’ll go on any ground. She could be a very good filly next year.”

Compass Hill, trained in Upton by John Murphy, gained a deserved breakthrough in the opening Blackwater Maiden, over six furlongs. Falcao set out to make all, but Compass Hill, in the hands of Shane Foley, moved upsides late on, and proved the stronger, as he pulled almost four lengths clear.

Foley said: “I was worried about ground, because he’s a good-moving horse, but he went through it well. Things didn’t go well for him last time, but he had the form to win, as he did today.”

Apache Gold secured a fourth success at this track when landing the corkracecourse.ie handicap under a fine ride from Rory Cleary. Trained in Doneraile by John Joe Walsh, the 6-1 chance was ridden up with the pace from an early stage, and pushed clear inside the two-furlong marker. That proved decisive, as he held the strong finish of Ecoeye and Shanghai Beauty by a neck and the same.

Brendan Walsh, son of the winning trainer, said: “The last day the ground was a bit tacky, and he couldn’t act on it. With the rain which came today, it was much looser and he went through it well.”

Berry with Enter the Red following their win in the Like Us On Facebook Handicap, with, from left, ownerNuala Howard, Delvin, Co Westmeath; trainer Aidan Howard; and Carl Howard. Picture: Denis Minihane
Berry with Enter the Red following their win in the Like Us On Facebook Handicap, with, from left, owner Nuala Howard, Delvin, Co Westmeath; trainer Aidan Howard; and Carl Howard. Picture: Denis Minihane

Another horse which excels here is the Aidan-Howard-trained Enter The Red, winner of the five-furlong handicap. There were five in contention as the line loomed, but it was Fran Berry who secured the first leg of a double, droving the six-year-old to a half-length win over Zaindera.

Howard said: “He loves it here; prior to today he had run here four times and never been out of the first two. Soft ground is key to him. He’s in again at Fairyhouse next Tuesday and, if it turns soft, he could turn up there.”

Niven, trained by Ken Condon, landed a nice gamble (12-1 to 6-1) when making a successful handicap debut in the nursery. The gelding travelled into the straight, moved clear two out, but was all out to hold off the fast-finishing Smiling Emily by a head, with La Tendresse the same distance away, in third.

Winning rider Shane Foley, who was completing a double, said: “He’s a lovely big horse, has had a few nice runs, and handles that ground really well. He got there pretty easily, and pricked his ears, but toughed it out well.

“I always felt I was holding on, he was dossing in front. He has a big frame, should develop well, and is a horse that will stay well.”

Only three went to post for the fillies’ race, but it turned into an interesting tactical affair from which Akira, having her first run for Aidan O’Brien, emerged triumphant.

Easy-to-back favourite Tamadhor (8-11 to 11-8) set out to make all and the runners raced in Indian file for much of the trip. However, the leader, perhaps inconvenienced by the conditions, came under pressure early in the straight, and Akira, ridden by Joseph O’Brien, got on top late to score by three parts of a length.

The winning rider said: “The ground was plenty soft enough, but she settled well, quickened up nicely, and got through the ground well.”

Confidence behind Avenante (5-2 favourite), in the concluding race, proved well-founded, as the daughter of Champs Elysees and Averna travelled well throughout and quickened away in the straight to win as she pleased.

Of the filly, who made her seasonal debut just days ago, winning trainer John Oxx said: “You’re always worried pulling them out so quickly, but she bounced out of Sunday’s race well and we had to come here as it was the last fillies’ maiden available to us at a mile-and-a-half.

“She enjoyed the step up in trip, handled the ground well, and is a hardy little filly. We’ll see whether we go for a handicap next or for the new listed race for fillies at the end of October in Naas.”


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Frits Potgieter is General Manager with Muckross Park Hotel and Spa.You've Been Served: Frits Potgieter, Muckross Park Hotel and Spa

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