Bowe, O'Neill in the running
The Carlow Farmers' meeting at Borris House on Sunday survived the testing conditions; there was a good entry and two divides resulted in an eight-race card which really put the pressure on the track, but credit is due to all concerned for getting the job done.
The Wexford connections maintained their strong strike rate in the first half of the season and were involved with four of the winners, while Michael and Caitríona Goff and their jockey, Shane Fitzgerald, sent a couple of runners to Boulta, Ballynoe, in Cork and had their fourth winner in recent weeks.
Colin Bowe is now joint leader of the handlers' championship on nine winners, with David Christie from Fermanagh. In the riders' event, Barry O'Neill is on 16 wins, just two behind champion, Derek O'Connor, with Rob James on eleven and Jamie Codd on eight.
There was an 11 a.m. start at Borris and it was a winning one for trainer Ivan Walker and owner Nick Doyle in the Walsh Whiskey Distillery four-year-old mares' maiden with Threeswallowsnick (Westerner-Sitges) under Tipp jockey, J.J. King. Ivan got off the mark with his first runner of the season and the mare could now be heading for the sales after coming home clear of 15 rivals.
Barry O'Neill filled third with the Casey Brothers Syndicate's Casey's Oscar, trained by Colin Bowe.
Bowe and O'Neill combined to win Division 1 of the Tattersalls Ireland Ascot & Cheltenham Sales four-year-old geldings' maiden with the W.B. Connors-owned Farm the Rock (Yeats-Shades of Lavender), which always seemed in control, and this son of Yeats is now bound for the sales.
Second was Ben the Boyo for Donnchadh Doyle and the D & N Syndicate, under Tipp. rider Damian Skehan, while Michael Goff from Ferns supplied third, Funny Irish, under Mark Scallan of Cleariestown.
Division 2 of the four-year-old geldings' maiden also came to Wexford, with Liam Kenny from Ballydarragh, Craanford, building on his good start to the season with Log On (Scorpion-Go Girl), owned by Noeleen Kenny and ridden by Harley Dunne from The Ballagh. The task was eased a little when leader, Starlight Court, tumbled at the last but this was a fine run by Log On.
The Shantou & Sea Moon at Burgage Stud five-year-old mares' maiden provided Jamie Codd with his winner for the day, and it could not have been much easier. Sue Oscar, trained by Gavin Cromwell in Navan, came in 15 lengths clear of a 13-strong field.
Harley Dunne was second on Kinla for trainer Shane Byrne and owner Aidan Byrne; third was John Doyle on Times are Grey for Seán Thomas Doyle and the Monbeg Syndicate, followed in by Katie's Hen for Barry O'Neill and Colin Bowe.
Well-known trainer, Shark Hanlon, sponsored the five-year-old geldings' maiden, won by Accord, ridden by Ambrose McCurtain for Jonathan Sweeney, both from Cork. Best from Wexford in the 17-runner field was fourth-placed High Frontier, ridden by J.J. King for Andrew Latta, Ballycarney.
There was a controversial end to the Goffs Country Open, for novice riders, which also went to Cork with Ringrone Castle winning for young J.J. O'Connor and trainer Michael Kennedy, Kinsale. Luska Lad finished second but was ruled out for going the wrong side of the bypassed last fence, and as a result Liam Kenny's Vital Plot ridden by Darragh Allen was moved up to third place. Vital Plot was ridden by Jamie Codd earlier this year at the Cheltenham and Punchestown festivals.
There were 32 runners in the two divisions of the Walsh's Homevalue Hardware six-year-old maiden. The first 17-runner race was won by a head in an exciting finish by Larry Capri, ridden by J.P. McKeown from the North, trained by Dermot McLoughlin from Co. Meath. Second was Baltimore Buzz, ridden by J.J. King and trained on the Curragh by Anthony Howard.
Divison 2 was won by Shúil Teacht Aniar, ridden by Damian Skehan from Tipperary and trained in Athy, Co. Kildare, by Michael Phelan.
Michael and Caitríona Goff and their 18-years-old stable jockey, Shane Fitzgerald, continued their great run at the United Hunt meeting at Boulta on Sunday with a fourth win in recent weeks. This time it was in the four-year-old geldings' maiden, and Clondaw Westie (Westerner-You're a Native) made it all and battled on with determination under Fitzgerald to hold off a well-backed favourite, Carter McKay, by half a length.
In the opening four-year-old mares' maiden, Clondaw Nell finished third for the same combination with a promising run, behind Denis Hogan's Ms. Parfois.
In the Winner of Two, Bobbythegangster ran well to take second under Eddie Keating (Gusserane) for Don Cashman and Talitha Doran from Rathgarogue. They found one too good in Bandon Bridge, ridden by Derek O'Connor for Jimmy Mangan.
Racing is now concluded until after Christmas and the action will resume at Dromahane in Cork on Wednesday, December 30. The next 'local' meeting will be the Shillelagh and District event at Fairwood, Tinahely, on January 10.