Race 1 --- Confined Maiden
Manfred Mann (7yo g Mandalus) attempted to make all, jumped very well in the hands of Pat O Keeffe (ex Josh Gifford), but tired in last in 2 furlongs and a slow jump at the last allowed the favourite Lucky Leader (6yo g Supreme Leader) to pip him in the dying strides. The winner had been well beaten in 2 previous bumper runs, so this was a modest event.
Race 2---5 yr Maiden Powers Qualifier
The first Powers qualifier of the year and a field containing some horses with definite park potential.
This race was run in a hailstorm with the wind also blowing a gale so it was a slowly run affair. It got interesting on the final circuit.
A group of 7 were well bunched arriving at the third last, but we lost the Enda Bolger newcomer Druids Glen here. At the second last, the leader Michael Hourigan's Moss Bawn fell, leaving Ballyhampshire Boy in front from Noble Justice and Keen Leader. 3 in line over the last and Noble Justice just quickened too well for Keen Leader and Bh Boy.
Noble Justice (Jurado) ran two good races as a 4 yr old and looks a decent prospect as his turn of foot will be more effective on better ground. This Liam Cashman trained winner will probably win an English bumper before the end of this UK NH season.
Druids Glen (Un Desperado) looked well in the paddock but the trainer felt beforehand that the ground was against him. Jockey JT McNamara reported that the horse gave him a good feel.
I think that Michael Hourigan's Moss Bawn (Jurado) could be very good. Experienced amateur Gordon Elliott said he would have won but for his fall and will be Cheltenham class in time. Could be the best pointer that Hourigan has produced from the pointing field since Dorans Pride. He looked a real chasing type in the paddock.
Keen Leader trained by Tom Busteed delighted his handler. This son of Supreme Leader according to Tom will easily win a bumper, and was unsuited by the pace of the race, a stronger pace may have allowed him to outstay the opposition. This horse is well regarded and if he returns for another point, he will win blindfolded.
Tom Costello ran 2 here that were not fancied, but should improve for the run. Beechgrove Gale (Toulon) who had 3 runs last year ran well until the second last, and debutante Over Anxious (Over The River) lived up to his name in the paddock, and toured around out the back for 2 circuits. But this 3/4 brother to both Into The Red and Over The Road, wouldn't always be as green, and could make headlines before the end of the year.
Race 3---6 yr Gelding Maiden
On paper there were 4 with chances but the original favourite Kilcrea Shyan (Husyan) was said to be in need of the outing and he faded a mile out.
Jumping the 4th last Millstream Court led the field a merry dance from a closing Aibitir (Alphabetim) with Charafad (Andretti) making strong headway. The 3 began to group as they left the backstraight, but Charafad slipped up before the home turn. Millstream Court and Aibitir engaged in a great battle up the home straight, with Eoin Gallagher just forcing Aibitir up close home.
Aibitir , Charafad and Millstream Court (2nd to Tik A Tai) all had respectable form last year so this was a notable 6 yr maiden. Millstream Court will have no problem collecting a maiden and might do well as a 2 1/2 mile handicap chaser in England as he jumps well and is a reliable front runner. Charafad was an unlucky loser and can atone soon, and is another who will collect on the track proper.
Race 4---Open Lightweight no pens
Its unlikely that a stronger open will be run in Ireland in 2001. This race featured 4 hunter chase winners and 4 racecourse winners since 1998. It was a cracking race, run at a strong pace.
That pace was set by Ballydonnelly (9yo Be My Native), an ex E O Grady bumper winner, who lead until tiring approaching 3 out. Michael Hourigans Father Andy (2nd at Aintree in 2000) took over and fended off Theretisforya, Rockholm Boy, Gunther McBride, Glacial Waters, Ballyvalogue and Nellie Gale, but had to give best on the run in to Strontium, which Davy Russell delivered late and to telling effect to score by little over a length. This race will no doubt provide the form basis for most Munster Opens during the next 2 months.
Strontium (9yo Strong Gale) was a very decent novice hurdler 2 years ago and finished second in a grade 1 novice hurdle at the Punchestown festival. He is not allowed hunter chase in Ireland but can in England, whether he can reproduce performances like this is open to question.
Father Andy looks good for further hunter chase success, but is a no go for the 4 mile at Cheltenham as he will not get the trip. He needs better ground and a return to Aintree is his seasonal target.
Decent mare Nellie Gale (9yo Strong Gale) owned by Brian Harding's parents usually needs her first race every year and on this form will collect more opens and hunter chases. She finished 5th.
Enda Bolger's promising 6 yr old Gunther McBride (Glacial Storm) was 4th which was pleasing as he was badly in need of the outing. He can make into one of Ireland's top hunter chasers, and a possible for the 4miler at the festival
Enda's other runner here, dual track winner Glacial Waters (8yo Glacial Storm) ran OK for 2 1/2 miles but cut little ice at the finish.
Former decent track performer Sam Vaughan hails from a yard out of form and showed little, the same remark applies to Tom Costello's You Know Best who looks a shadow of his former best, at 10, age is catching up with him.
Ballydonnelly showed enough to hint at open success in lesser company, if he remains sound.
Michael Hourigan's second runner Rockholm Boy was in the van throughout and just held third place. He looked well exposed on the track, but won 2 points last year, and should collect more this year. However on the evidence of this run it is a surprise that he has not been returned to the track to take advantage of his good handicap mark.
Ballyvalogue (6yo Air Display) looked progressive winning 2 late season good ground points last year. This individual trained by Ron Flavin's father was taking on more experienced rivals for his first open outing, and ran a cracker to finish 6th. Looks an improving sort who may be good enough to collect at least a hunter chase this campaign.
Race 5---Winners of One no maidens.
A 13 runner event won easily by the repatriated Minino (a winner at Cottenham in 2000). Back with Gerry Cully this 8 yr old son of Glacial Storm made all and suggest that he is up to winning in open company. Nothing else appeals from this race.
Ex English Le Cabro D'Or was up to his UK antics before falling at the second. He has joined the Costello team.
Race 6-- 6 yr old Mares Maiden
9 ran but 3 were out after the second, the two joint favourites Marys Fun and The Ould Boreen had a great tussle with the former coming out on top to give Eoin Gallagher a start of season double.
Marys Fun (Glacial Storm) can be temperamental but on a going day has talent. The Ould Boreen(Good Thyne) wouldn't be a maiden for long and finished 2nd on her final outing last year deserves a visit to the winners enclosure.
1-Lucky Leader (J O Brien)
5 yr geldings maiden
1-Noble Justice (P Cashman)
2-Keen Leader ( J Sheehan)
6 yr geldings maiden
1-Aibitir ( E Gallagher)
2-Millstream Court ( J O Brien)
3-Rendari (P Cashman)
1-Strontium (D Russell)
2-Father Andy (G Elliott)
3-Rockholm Boy (B Moran)
Winners Of One
1-Minino (D Murphy)
2-Jot 'Em Down ( JT McNamara)
6 Mares Maiden
1-Marys Fun ( E Gallagher)
2-The Ould Boreen ( J A Collins)
3- Aghawadda Queen ( D Russell)
Irish pointing is at Lisgoold next Sunday 7/1/2001, 12.30 start.