A NUMBER of Kilkenny-trained horses were in scintillating form during the past week. So good were the results, that local punters must have amassed a decent war chest heading into the Summer festival racing season.
Jim Bolger set the ball rolling at Tipperary when Somasach took the opening juvenile fillies maiden in the hands of his son-in-law Kevin Manning. This meeting, which had been transferred from Fairyhouse because of the state of the Co Meath track, had no admission charge which resulted in a decent attendance for what was a very run-of-the-mill flat offering.
There was plenty of chat about the debutante Somasach and she had a good following in spite of the fact that the Aidan O’Brien runner After was all the rage in the betting market. Always well placed, the Bolger filly arrived to challenge a furlong or so out and looked poised for an easy victory until Experience, which was slowly away, came with a strong run and the pair flashed across the line almost in unison.
Opinion was sharply divided as to the outcome, but the camera showed Somasach had prevailed by a short head. Bred in America by her trainer, the winner is out of a half-sister to Belmont Stakes winner Easy Goer. She is well regarded by Bolger and can go on to better things. The runner-up Experience which was also making her debut certainly caught the eye, she reared up leaving the stalls and was last with a furlong to run but finished like an express train. One thing is for sure she will not be at 14/1 when she appears next time.
Thursday’s second session at the popular Junction circuit yielded no less than three local winners. Tom Mullins led the charge when he teamed up with nephew Danny to land the second division of the two mile and four handicap hurdle with Some Gem while, for good measure, the Kilmanagh-owned Ut Love took the concluding bumper.
The Flemensfirth mare Some Gem finally opened her account when she just shaded the verdict over the favourite Teak after a great battle. Coming from off the pace, the seven-year-old led before the final flight and hit the wire a short head to the good. A steward’s inquiry was announced into possible interference after the last hurdle but this was overruled.
Owned by the trainer’s wife Helen, Some Gem is a half-sister to Oscar Dan Dan. Now that she has gained a winning bracket she is a valuable prospect as a broodmare when she retires to the paddocks.
Eoin Doyle kept up his blistering run when The Fonze gained the 16th win of his career with an impressive success in the two mile and a furlong conditions chase.
Owned by Jamie Dunphy, a neighbour of the trainer, Shay Barry ensured The Fonze was never too far out of his ground. Barry sent him to the front at the penultimate fence and from there the combination drew steadily clear to win unchallenged by seven lengths from Schelm.
Doyle was only stating the obvious when he revealed that his charge was a great servant. He will be kept on the go for the Summer and the Galway Plate could be a target - a race that he finished fourth in last year.
Slieverue handler Eoin Griffin got his name on the scoresheet when St Devote ran out a narrow winner of the two mile and a half beginners chase in the hands of Barry Geraghty.
A well-supported favourite, the six-year-old was having his first run over the major obstacles. After chasing the leaders he was driven up to deliver his challenge after turning to face the judge. He appeared to come off a straight line before the last but Geraghty soon had him straightened out and he responded well to pressure on the run-in to land the spoils by a neck.
St Devote, who numbers Irish soccer internationals Kevin Doyle, John O’Shea and Stephen Hunt among his owners, gave the Republic a timely boost ahead of their big game against Macedonia. Galway is likely to be on his agenda, with a Novice chase as the target.
Kilmanagh stud owner Nicky Teehan had his colours carried to victory in the bumper by the newcomer Ut Love which credited Matthieu Palussiere with his second winner since relocating from South Lodge to the Curragh.
Easy to back, the four-year-old was settled in mid division and made steady progress from before the home turn to remain in contention with a couple of furlongs left to race. Hitting the front soon after, she battled well to see off the persistent challenge of Deep Determination by a head.
French-bred, the winner possesses a lovely attitude according to Palussiere. He will discuss her next appearance with the owner before making any decision.
The success story continued at Tramore on Friday evening with three more winners. Eoin Doyle and Shay Barry were again on the mark again in the opening maiden hurdle courtesy of Safari Sunup which ran out a clear three and a half length winner.
Stoneyford owner Tony Holland enjoyed further success when the Thomastown-trained Promise Maker caused an upset in the 81-102 rated handicap hurdle, while John O’Shea landed the two mile beginners chase with his stable star Gudnis Gracious Me, which could yet appear in the Galway Hurdle if she gets in at bottom weight.