Serious Operator lit up Sunday’s Muskerry Foxhounds point-to-point meeting at the ever-dependable Dromahane circuit by recording an emphatic success under his Walshtown-based handler Donie Murphy’s son James Murphy in the winners of one.
On an afternoon that saw a seven-race card with some 74 runners, the five-year-old Serious Operator (6/1) made smooth progress from the fourth-last to touch down in front three out.
The winning son of Malinas, winner of the Ballyvodock confined hunt maiden in January, was always travelling marginally better than runner-up Ik’s Man from two out with one and a half lengths duly separating the pair. The pair returned 25 lengths clear of the third-placed Rule Of June.
“He did it well and they went a good pace early on which suited him,“ said handler Murphy of his wife Geraldine’s Serious Operator.
“We think that he is a good horse and I was giving him every chance coming here.
"He likes good ground and he’s good enough to go for a bumper.“
James Hannon is experiencing a fine season and the Tallow amateur combined with trainer/breeder Paul Kiely to collect the closing six-year-old and upwards geldings’ maiden aboard The Galaha Kid (6/1), much to the joy of the 11 bookmakers present.
Having pulled up on his only two previous starts, The Galaha Kid made his way to the fore after the third-last of the 14 obstacles and he was holding an advantage of just over a length when his closest pursuer Carriglux fell at the final fence.
The Galaha Kid was then left clear to beat Turnthelightoff by a distance.
“He had been working well at home and this isn’t that much of a surprise,“ disclosed Cappagh-based Kiely of his wife Rachel Murphy’s The Galaha Kid.
“It’s great to give James [Hannon] a winner as he does a lot of schooling with my brother Richie at home.“
Brian Dunleavy continues to gain admirers and the Dungourney native joined forces with Ellen Doyle to win the second division of the five-year-old geldings’ maiden aboard Master Splinter (3/1 – 7/4), absent since finishing fifth to Zaisi at Moig South in November.
Master Splinter made all the running, giving an exhibition of fencing in the process, to deny the staying-on Real Rewards by a neck.
“The soft ground at Moig South took a bit out of him, but we knew that we had a nice horse coming here today,“ said the winning hander’s brother James Doyle of the 2020 Derby sale graduate Master Splinter.
Eoin O’Brien, who recorded his 100th points success at Ballyknock last month, combined with Co Down-based owner/trainer Noel Hynds to land the opening four-year-old mares’ maiden with well-supported newcomer Rossea (6/1 – 7/2).
The Affinisea-sired Rossea made all the running and the sweet-jumping bay held on valiantly in the closing stages to see off Con McSweeney’s debutant Rebel Treaty by a neck.
“This filly always showed that she was a wee bit special and we said that we would come here to take on the best,“ remarked Hynes, a farrier by trade, who was paying an initial visit to Dromahane.
There were several close finishes throughout the day, none more so than in the four-year-old auction maiden with the judge awarding a dead heat between the Paul Pierce-trained newcomer Marty McFly (5/1), the mount of Sean Staples and the previously once-raced Pride Of Erin (5/1) who was steered to success by Brian Lawless for the absent Donnchadh Doyle.
The Aidan Fitzgerald-trained Whataboutyeh (3/1) stepped up from two recent third-placed efforts at Ballyragget and Tattersalls by leading from before the last with Troy Walsh to beat Had To Be Hugo by a half-length in the first split of the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.
Jonathan Fogarty’s Wexford challenge Pougne Aminta (5/1)went one better than she did on her previous start at Ballyknock by leading from after two out with Conor Moore to dismiss Talkingthetalk by eight and a half lengths in the five-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden, the race that attracted the biggest field of the day in 16 runners.
The Muskerry Foxhounds race again on Monday at Birch Hill outside Grenagh (2pm start).