THERE was some outstanding fare at Sunday’s United Hunt point-to-point fixture at Ballindenisk.
On an afternoon that saw the track produced in excellent condition with 99 runners participating on the nine-race card, the Declan Queally-trained Rocky’s Howya (6/4) moved back alongside Bold Enough on eight winners in his quest to be crowned champion pointer of the season following his smooth success under regular partner Chris O’Donovan in the open.
Rocky’s Howya, whose winning streak came to a halt when he finished second to Fr Humphrey at Dromahane three weeks earlier, made his way to the front after the third last of the 12 obstacles to beat last month’s Punchestown hunters chase winner Its On The Line by a comfortable four lengths with Stranger Danger returning a further two and a half lengths adrift in third spot.
It’s also worth recalling that Rocky’s Howya finished fourth in the Cheltenham Foxhunters almost two months earlier with Emmet Mullins’ Its On The Line finishing second in the same famed three and a quarter mile contest at the Prestbury Park venue.
Handler Queally’s son and namesake remarked of the Mrs Margaret Kiely-owned Rocky’s Howya: “The three-week break from Dromahane definitely helped and he will probably now run at Ballingarry next weekend.“
Chris O’Donovan, who now leads Derek O’Connor by one in the southern regional riders championship, departed with two winners as he was earlier on the mark aboard the Tom Keating-owned/trained newcomer Castle Ivers (4/1) in the second division of the four-year-old maiden.
The Malinas-sired Castle Ivers made all the running and he asserted from the last to see off Little Big Kev by a comfortable four lengths.
“He’s a nice horse that has always gone well at home and he has plenty of boot,“ remarked Keating of Castle Ivers, a close relation to Made On Taipan, that was purchased at last year’s Derby sale.
Araglen native Darragh Allen joined forces with Co Wexford-based handler Richard Black to collect the closing winners of two aboard Golden De Coeur (5/2).
A confirmed frontrunner, the seven-year-old Golden De Coeur led until he was fractionally headed by runner-up Bourbon N Kentucky at the final fence.
Golden De Coeur however was back in front on the flat and he stayed on stoutly to oblige by three quarters of a length.
The Eamonn Gallagher-trained Blue In The West (8/1) came home as he pleased in the five-year-old and upwards confined hunt maiden.
The six-year-old Blue In The West, who finished third on his career debut at this same venue back in December, overtook Truckers Fame before two out and he was always in command with Mikey O’Connor from before the last as he returned with four lengths to spare over Eric Mellerick’s mount Sense The Tension.
“He ran well in the two point-to-point bumpers at Cork and Tipperary recently and the plan then was to come back here for the confined maiden,“ said handler Gallagher of the six-year-old Blue In The West, the first horse that he has trained for Bartlemy-based owner/breeder Padraig Barry.
Derek O’Connor made his only mount of the meeting a winning one by landing the first division of the four-year-old maiden aboard the Sam Curling-trained Western Harmony (4/1).
Seventh on his debut at Dromahane last month, Western Harmony stormed home on the outer to lead over 50 yards to see off Village Master by one and a half lengths.
“He’s a horse that just got cannoned into at the start in Dromahane and we’ve always thought a lot of him," remarked Curling of the John O’Leary-owned Western Harmony.
19-year-old Andy Burke Ott from Boherbue partnered a sixth winner in points by landing the first division of the five-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden aboard his father Alex Ott’s Dear Ryta (5/1), who led on the flat to dismiss Lackaneen Mag by a length in the colours of Ballinhassig-based breeder Eamonn Grainger.
Next Sunday, the point-to-point season concludes with the Clonakilty meeting on the scenic Inchydoney Island (2pm start).