THE annual Aghabullogue point-to-point meeting, which was initially staged back in 1988, took place under the auspices of the Muskerry Foxhounds on the Murphy brothers’ farm at Dromatimore on Sunday.
The Declan Queally-trained Rocky’s Howya lit up the afternoon by posting a terrific frontrunning display under regular partner Chris O’Donovan to win the open lightweight.
The ex-track performer Rocky’s Howya (2/1), who was having a first start in open grade, was bounced out in front and the son of Ask jumped fluently on the rain-softened ground with the patiently-ridden La Feline emerging as his biggest danger from the third last of the 16 obstacles.
La Feline, winner of this same race 12 months ago, couldn’t however raise her effort shortly after the turn into the home straight well before the final fence as Rocky’s Howya galloped on relentlessly to beat her by 24 lengths.
The pair returned some 48 lengths clear of the third-placed Heroes Of Renown.
Handler Queally remarked of Rocky’s Howya, representing Mrs Margaret Kiely from Dungarvan: “I wouldn’t rule out the Cheltenham Foxhunters if we get qualified. He’s a very tough horse that stays well and he ideally likes better ground. We’ll see if we can find another open for him next month."
James Hannon was the only rider to partner a double, the Tallow amateur instigating his brace aboard the Donie Barry-trained Indian Louis (3/1) in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.
The previously twice-raced Indian Louis, who ran respectably despite pulling up on his previous outing in the Ballindenisk contest won by Shanagh Bob last month, was another to benefit from pacesetting tactics and he held a couple of lengths advantage from Georgie Burgess on the descent from two out.
The latter had no more to offer before the final fence as the winning son of Mahler maintained the tempo to score by three and a half lengths in the colours of Galwegian Sean Connors.
“This fellow is a nice type. He’s the first horse that Sean [Connors] has had with me and he will probably now go to the sales,“ said handler Barry, who trains eight horse from his Gannons’ Hill base outside Johnstown in Co Kilkenny.
Hannon brought up his two-timer aboard the Harry Kelly-trained My Reprieve (6/4) in the six-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden, much to the dismay of the 12 bookmakers present. Last month’s Ballindenisk runner-up similarly recorded a pillar-to-post success and she asserted on the run to the final fence to account for Sarah Jane by two lengths.
“She has been a shade unlucky and she had a good run in Ballindenisk the last day,“ said handler Kelly of My Reprieve, owned by his cousin Mrs Mary Dicker from Piltown in Kilkenny.
Sarah Jane’s rider Mikey O’Connor was earlier on the mark aboard Alo’s Vision (5/2) in the five and six-year-old mares’ maiden.
The Liam Burke-trained Alo’s Vision, owned and bred by Mary Tynan Phelan disputed the running with Bella Noche until the former edged ahead with five fences remaining.
Alo’s Vision though came back with a renewed effort to challenge on the outer before the final fence and she just got on top after the last to beat Lady Corrib by a head in what was the closest finish of the afternoon.
Tynan Phelan reported that Alo’s Vision’s dam Easter Saturday previously won here at Aghabullogue as did her half-sister Easter In Paris.
The Louis Archdeacon-trained Another Ocana (11/4) sprung a mild surprise in the three-runner winners of two by supplementing his adjacent hunts maiden success at Dromahane on December 30th under Cal Shine.
The six-year-old Another Ocana, having moved closer in third from six out, made his way to the front on the descent from the second-last and he stormed clear approaching the last as his two rivals Dundaniel and Heretoeternity pulled up when out of contention before this obstacle.
“He’s a horse that likes this testing ground and we’ll now run him in another winners contest,“ said Banteer-based handler Archdeacon of Another Ocana.
The Court Cave-sired Another Ocana is owned by the Treaty Royals and Rebels Syndicate, who were keen to remember one of their members Pat Carey from Co Meath who sadly passed away a year ago.
Killamurren, Bartlemy-based trainer/breeder Olivia Hegarty struck with ex-hurdler Sir Rock (10/1) in the closing six-year-old and upwards geldings’ maiden. Sir Rock, who was making his debut ‘between the flags’ moved through to dispute the running from after four out and he got on top approaching the last with Darragh Allen to contain Starlight Cato by four lengths.
“He’s an own-brother to Thunder Rock of Olly Murphy’s and he’s handicapped over hurdles. He should make a nice fun horse for someone in England,“ said four-horse handler Mrs Hegarty of her husband Thomas’ Sir Rock.
Next Sunday, the Killeagh Harriers fixture takes place at Carrigarostig outside Killeagh (12.30pm start).