In-form handler Michael Winters must have felt like Bill Murray’s character in the widely-acclaimed film Groundhog Day at yesterday’s well-attended Killeagh Harriers point-to-point meeting as, for the second Sunday running, he struck with a hugely-exciting newcomer that had many of those present searching for previously unused superlatives.
At Aghabullogue the previous weekend, Winters introduced For Carmel whilst yesterday, the Kanturk-based operator sent out the well-touted Knocknanuss (11/10) to record a scintillating success in the truly-run five-year-old geldings’ maiden. The Beneficial-sired Knocknanuss always travelled with purpose for Ciaran Fennessy and he led from the seventh of the 14 obstacles, going clear after three out.
Whilst Paul Cashman’s runner-up Go Long closed on the descent into the home straight before two out, Knocknanuss still won with consummate ease by two and a half lengths despite losing some momentum at the final fence. Knocknansusss is shared by Rebel Fitz’s owner Brian Sweetman with Londoner Garry Brown, who incidentally acquired the close relation to 1995 Cheltenham bumper winner Dato Star at the 2013 Goffs Land Rover sale.
“This horse worked very well at Dromahane last Tuesday and he seems to have loads of gears. He will probably now go to the Brightwells sale at Cheltenham next weekend,” said Winters of Knocknanuss.
Winters’ brother-in-law Adrian Maguire struck with Two Rockers (1/2 — 2/5), who maintained his unbeaten record in points this season, in the open.
Two Rockers, successful at Ballindenisk and Dromahane in late-autumn, made all the running. Whilst somewhat deliberate at his fences early on, the triumphant eight-year-old still went clear from three out and he was always containing Wayupinthesky from the second last with some three and a half lengths ultimately separating the pair. Maguire is now toying with running Two Rockers, a former three-time track winner for Alan King, in the Raymond Smith Memorial Hunters Chase at Leopardstown next month.
Two Rockers’ rider Declan Queally was the only rider to depart with two winners, the 26-year-old earlier being on the mark aboard John O’Callaghan’s Presenting Opera (6/4) in the three-runner adjacent hunts maiden.
Having led until joined with four fences remaining, Presenting Opera was the one to take advantage when fractional leader The Mobile Man blundered at the final fence with the winning son of Presenting then asserting to score by three and a half lengths. Presenting Opera is owned and bred by Irene Walsh and handler O’Callaghan recalled partnering numerous winners for the Mogeely-based figure during his own days as an amateur.
The Robert Tyner-trained Joint Reaction (5/4 – 8/11) justified strong market support under Derek O’Connor in the opening five-year-old mares’ maiden, a race that saw the winning owner receive a generous €1, 000 bonus courtesy of race-sponsors’ ITBA and Tattersalls Ireland.
Joint Reaction, who really caught the eye on her initial outing at Templenacarriga two weeks earlier, moved through to challenge long-time leader Goodnightirene with two fences remaining and she then survived a blunder at the last to beat Tom Keating’s charge by one and a half lengths. Joint Reaction is now a probable for a mares’ bumper, according to Tyner’s wife Mary one of the members of the winning six-strong All The Hens Syndicate.
Cadawil completed a profitable session for punters by justifying 2/1 favouritism (from 7/2) with his handler Rodger Sweeney’s son Colman in the six-year-old and upwards maiden.
In a race that saw three horses (Talk Of The South, Ringrone Castle and Viaduct Jack) being carried out through the wing of the fifth last, Cadawil took command from four out to dismiss Windy Island by six lengths. Cloneen Choice meanwhile posted a solid debut effort by returning a further one-length adrift in third spot.
Larry Murphy made a triumphant return to action from a ten-month lay-off by guiding Ballyknock Hill (5/1) to victory in the mares’ winners of two. The Padraig Higgins-owned/trained Ballyknock Hill, on whom 24-year-old Murphy fractured his leg from in a second-last fence fall at Kilworth last season, took the measure of favourite Bothermenot from the final fence to oblige by one and a half lengths. Ballyknock Hill is now likely to contest another mares’ winners race at Knockanard next month – February 15th.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved