THERE was some outstanding racing action at Sunday’s well-attended Pigeon Hill & Carrigtwohill point-to-point meeting at Ballyvodock outside Midleton.
There some gripping finishes with the judge awarding a head-heat between Paddy Cronin’s homebred O Mio Babbino and Sam Curling’s odds-on shot La Feline in the mares’ open.
O Mio Babbino (7/2) employed the same frontrunning tactics that she used to terrific effect when winning a Dromahane confined hunt maiden on December 30th whilst Derek O’Connor was content to sit out the back on recent open lightweight winner La Feline (1/2).
O Mio Babbino still held a four-length advantage at the third last of the 13 obstacles. La Feline however closed on the outer between the final two fences and she joined issue quite literally on the line with the Michael Looney-ridden O Mio Babbino with the pair returning five lengths clear of the third-placed Peggy Gordon.
A delighted Cronin remarked:” I am going to point-to-points for 60 years and I love it.
"We will now go to Knockanard in two weeks time with O Mio Babbino for the mares’ winners race there and Michael [Looney] gave her a fabulous ride.“
L Feline’s handler Sam Curling reported:” O Mio Babbino was very game from the front and Derek [O’Connor] came to win his race before the last on our mare, but she didn’t wing the fence and I’m delighted to get a dead heat.“
There was yet another pulsating finish in store in the five-year-old and upwards confined hunt maiden for novice riders with Serious Operator (9/10), who disputed the running virtually throughout, holding on grimly under his handler Donie Murphy’s 22-year-old son James Murphy to eclipse Danny Fitzgerald’s mount Carrig Wells by a head.
“He’s a horse with a nice cruising speed that I would love to run in a bumper,“ said Walshtown-based handler Murphy of his wife Geraldine’s Serious Operator, whom he bought as a foal from breeder Dan O’Mahoney.
James Murphy meanwhile has now partnered five winners in points whilst he also has solitary track success to his credit.
Araglen native Darragh Allen is experiencing a fine season and he combined with Johnstown, Co Kilkenny-based owner/trainer breeder Michelle Gannon to capture the second division of the closing six-year-old and upwards maiden with Rock On Harry (4/1).
The hooded Rock On Harry stepped forwards from his fifth-placed effort at Ballindenisk last month by leading from half-way and, then overcoming some interference by a loose horse before two out, to dismiss Hattons Garden by five lengths.
It was a red-letter occasion for 25-year-old Hannah Philipps from Fethard as she joined forces with Hattons Gardens’ owner/trainer Tom Keating to win the first division of this same contest aboard De Nordener (9/2).
Runner-up on his previous start behind Just A Dime in an Aghabullogue winners race just over two weeks earlier, De Nordener led from six out and he powered clear before the last to dismiss the patiently-ridden Big Bill Newman by five lengths.
“He’s a horse that I bought in Doncaster as a three-year-old, Hannah gave him a fabulous ride and he will now go for a winners race if I still have him, “said Keating of the Ocovango-sired De Nordener.
The Denis Murphy-trained newcomer An Tobar (evens) had little more than an exercise canter on his debut in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden, much to the dismay of the 17 bookmakers present.
An Tobar, a son of Gentlewave, was always well positioned with Luke Murphy and he surged clear from before two out to beat Good For Scope by an unchallenged 20 lengths in the style of a horse that we will be hearing a lot more about.
“He’s a horse whose work was always very special and he’s a horse that any trainer would like to have,“ said Murphy of An Tobar.
The British-trained An Tobar is now likely to be transferred by owner Brian Acheson to one of his track trainers to run ‘inside the rails’ under his Robcour banner.
Colonel Harry (4/1 – 3/1) justified the lengthy trek from his handler Patrick Farrell’s Tullow base by making virtually all the running under Pa King to land the second division of this same contest.
Colonel Harry, who did well to survive a horrendous fourth last fence blunder, ultimately beat Oak Creek by six lengths.
I Giorni (7/1) came from well off the pace with Jack Hendrick to make a winning debut for Rathnure-based handler Robert Tector in the opening five-year-old mares’ maiden, one length ultimately separating her from the Marie Harding-trained runner-up Penny Glory.
Next Sunday, the annual Tallow meting takes place at Shanakill Cross, Conna (12. 30 pm start).