THE final Munster meeting of the 2020/21 point-to-point season took place at Tralee racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
The Robert Tyner-trained Sparkling Bird lit up the North Kerry Harriers fixture for many by posting a dominant display with Darragh Allen to win the five-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden.
Sparkling Bird, an excellent third on her only previous start at Dawstown on May bank holiday Monday, arrived from off the pace to overtake long-time leader Lily Of Dromard on the flat en-route to obliging by two and a half lengths in the colours of her trainer’s sister-in-law Catherine O’Donovan from Bandon.
“She had a lovely run in Dawstown, but she reached for the fourth last there and was a bit green,“ said Tyner of Sparkling Bird, a graduate of the 2019 Derby sale that’s a close relation to Three Muskateers.
“We dropped her in today and she picked up well after the last. She might go to the sales in Newmarket later on this week, if not she will go to the track.“
Barry O’Neill dominated the meeting by partnering four winners, with the quartet all being supplied by Colin Bowe, and the pair opened their account courtesy of Havanella in the opening four-year-old mares’ maiden.
In a race that saw just three runners, Havanella led until headed by runner-up Sarah Jane at the third last of the 13 obstacles.
The winning French-bred was back in front at the final fence and she asserted from the last to score by two lengths.
“She’s a lot better than that and she was just very green in front,“ said rider O’Neill of the French-bred Havanella, who held every chance when falling two out on her only previous start at Tattersalls earlier this month.
O’Neill, the reigning champion rider, then attained a notable milestone by partnering a 50th winner of the season aboard newcomer Givega in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.
Givega, a French-bred son of Authorized that’s owned by Dungarvan-based veterinary surgeon Walter Connors, led from the seventh fence and he effortlessly drew clear before the last to see off Paladian Jewel by two lengths.
“He was very impressive, he just travelled and jumped better than the rest of them,“ said O’Neill of the above-average Givega, a close relation to willie Mullins’ former outstanding Grade 1 winning mare Quevega.
The Ballindaggin native brought up his third success of the afternoon aboard Branson Missouri in the winners of three.
However, Branson Missouri definitely and most certainly had luck on her side as she was three lengths adrift of long-lime leader Backoftheenvelope and making little impression when Ciaran Fennessy’s charge cruelly unseated at the final fence.
The five-year-old Branson Missouri, owned by Leo McArdle from Monaghan, was then left clear to dismiss the only other finisher Daenerys Stormborn by 10 lengths.
O’Neill signed off aboard the recent Dromahane debut third Sullivan’s Brow in the closing six-year-old and upwards geldings’ maiden.
Sullivan’s Brow could be called the most likely winner from two out as he took the eye travelling well on the outer and the close relation to Blazing Tempo duly assumed command before the last to see off Darragh Allen’s mount Fortyfive West by three lengths.
“He’s a lovely horse that would have won even easier if I hadn’t took a pull out of him at the last,“ commented O’Neill of Sullivan’s Brow, owned by the No Negative Partnership that comprises handler Bowe’s wife Fiona and his sister Anita Brennan.
The Denis Murphy-trained newcomer City Chief, a big chasing type by Soldier Of Fortune, returned to the coveted number one slot in the four-year-old geldings’ maiden.
City Chief, a horse with a lovely style of galloping, made his way to the front inside the final 50 yards to dispose of fellow debutant Knowsley Road by a snug three parts of a length.
It’s probable that City Chief will now be sold.
The point-to-point season concludes next Sunday with a Kilkenny Foxhounds meeting at Grennan, outside Thomastown (2pm start).