THE annual Doneraile Harriers point-to-point fixture took place at Dromahane on Sunday.
The Declan Queally-trained Rocky’s Howya continued his outstanding campaign by recording his seventh success of the season in the novice riders open.
Rocky’s Howya (1/5), who also finished an excellent fourth in last month’s Cheltenham Foxhunters, set off in his customary frontrunning position with first-time partner Alan O’Sullivan and he eased clear from after the penultimate of the 14 obstacles to contain Eugene O’Sullivan’s veteran Dashing Perk by nine lengths.
“He’s a cracking good horse and the plan is to make him champion pointer this season,“ remarked handler Queally’s son and namesake of the Mrs Margaret Kiely-owned Rocky’s Howya.
“He leads La Feline by one now as she’s on six wins for the season and he will be entered in the open here at Dromahane next Sunday and then the winners race for horses that were maidens at the start of the season takes place here the following Sunday (April 30th).“
The Alan Ahern-trained Mistymal (2/1 – 5/4) stepped forwards from his excellent fourth-placed effort at Ballyknock on the Wednesday of Easter week (April 5th) by landing the five-year-old and upwards maiden, a race that was restricted to horses trained by handlers’ that hadn’t previously sent out 10 winners and which came with a generous €1,500 bonus to the winning owner.
The five-year-old Mistymal, who was having a third career start, always travelled with purpose and he picked up the running for Johnny Barry after the fourth-last.
Whilst runner-up Wet The Shamrock was in close attendance to Mistymal from three out, the eventual winner was marginally the stronger from the last as he returned with a length to spare over Vincent Sheehan’s charge.
“He had a great run in Ballyknock and he was staying on well that day. He improved from that run here today and he will probably now be sold,“ said trainer Ahern of the homebred Mistymal that represents his sister-in-law Norah Ahern.
Cappoquin native Mikey Sweeney was the meeting’s leading rider as he teamed up with handler Mick Goff to record a two-timer, the pair opening their account with newcomer Fortunate Man (5/1) in the four-year-old geldings’ maiden.
The Soldier Of Fortune-sired Fortunate Man picked up the running two out and he asserted in scintillating fashion from the last to beat favourite Ghost Hunter by two lengths.
The pair returned fully 12 lengths clear of the third-placed Professor Klump.
“This horse has been exceptional from day one and Pat McCarthy from Caherconlish, who owns him with me, was on holiday last week and we said then that we would wait a week to run him,“ said handler Goff of Fortunate Man.
“He will now go to a sale.“
Goff and Sweeney then combined to collect the five-year-old geldings’ maiden, the race that attracted the biggest field of the afternoon in 16 runners, with Double Digits (4/1).
Absent since finishing second on his only previous start at Kinsale last October, Double Digits led from before the last to see off Primoz by a length in the colours of his hander’s wife Mrs Catriona Goff.
“I bought this fellow as a foal, but he pulled some muscles in his back when finishing second in Kinsale and he just needed a little bit of time.
"He’s only starting to fill out now and I’d imagine that he will now be sold,“ remarked Goff of Double Digits.
The closest finish of the day came in the closing six-year-old and upwards maiden as the David Cotter-trained Flemens Interest (5/1) provided rider Darragh Allen with a twelfth winner of the season by leading from before the last and then holding on grimly to deny River Vale by a short head in the colours of Rathcormac-based breeder John Cotter.
Sean Staples, who of course rode Saturday’s Aintree Grand National hero Corach Rambler to win a Monskgrange maiden point in September 2020, teamed up with County Wexford-based operator Paul Pierce to land the four-year-old mares’ maiden aboard newcomer Bellas Bridge (5/1).
The British-bred Bellas Bridge got on top from the last to eclipse fellow first-timer True Testimony by a length.
Next Sunday, the annual Killeady Harriers meeting takes place at Dromahane (2pm start).