DERMOT McLoughlin bagged the opening night feature at Ballinrobe’s popular late May double header as Two Shoe Tom notched up the third win of her career in the Monroes John Monroe Memorial Mares Handicap Hurdle.
A fairly strong pace meant that the complexion of this race changed a few times over the final half mile. The favourite Hidden Land had a brief spell in front after the second last but she was soon headed by Ena Baie who looked to have victory in the bag when producing a much better jump at the last than the chasing Blanketontheground.
Two Shoe Tom looked well held in third coming to the final flight but began to stay on with some purpose for Conor Maxwell. Her sustained charge carried her to the front in the closing stages and a three-and-a-quarter-length triumph over Ena Baie.
“Conor said there was going to be plenty of pace and we said we’d drop her in because she won for us before when ridden like that,” said the trainer. “They went a good gallop and the little bit of juice in the ground helps as she hits the ground hard enough.”
J.J. Slevin has been enjoying a fine run through the first month of the new season and he made it nine winners in just over two weeks when Joseph O’Brien’s Prairie Dancer made all in the Sheridan Electric Hurdle for four-year-olds over an extended two and a quarter miles. A Grade 3 runner-up at Fairyhouse in February, the Sean Sweeney-owned evens favourite had this race in safe keeping from well before the last and he went on to beat his labouring market rival Douglas DC by 16 lengths.
The 124-rated winner was adding this race to his victory in a maiden hurdle at Cork over Easter and he also picked up two wins on the flat last season.
AFTER a frustrating time of things, Thomas Gibney has enjoyed a welcome upswing in fortunes in recent days and he followed a win on the flat at Fairyhouse on Friday with a double here.
The trainer struck first with Ballybaun Star (5/2) in the Bank Of Ireland Maiden Hurdle over an extended two and a quarter miles.
The Peter Thome-owned and -bred five-year-old signalled he could soon be making his mark over timber when chasing home Level Neverending at Kilbeggan several weeks ago and he progressed nicely from that run.
He picked up well for Darragh O’Keeffe to surge past the favourite Spick And Span after the last and went on to score by seven lengths.
“I thought we might struggle to beat the runner-up but he galloped to the line strongly,” stated Gibney. “A longer trip would suit him better and I had him in over further here on Tuesday but this evening’s race possibly wasn’t as strong. He’s a different horse since we gelded him and sent him jumping.”
Gibney and O’Keeffe struck later with Story Rory (6/1) in the first division of the 80-95 rated FBD Handicap Hurdle over two and three-quarter miles.
The seven-year-old failed to fire on his debut for Gibney when sent off a well-backed favourite for a Tramore handicap hurdle in April but produced a vastly better effort to defeat Lady L’Lerom by five and a half lengths after taking over in front with two to jump.
“His owner Damien Conway (Alberta Capital Ltd) is from only up the road so it’s fantastic for the horse to win here. He’ll definitely go chasing at some point,” observed Gibney.
“We’ve had a clatter of seconds for the last couple of months and it was getting very hard to get one home in front but the mare (Atavique) won on Friday and things have just rolled on since then.”
After winning here at the start of the month It’s Time Again, owned and trained by Cork-based David Barry, defied a 9lb hike in the ratings to win the second division of that 80-95 rated handicap hurdle.
Jack Foley took the mount on the 7/2 chance who struck the front at the last and galloped on determinedly to reach the line with three lengths to spare.
Impressive comeback by Aime Desjy
AFTER spending 1,000 days off the track following an encouraging debut fourth in a Grade 3 hurdle at Auteuil, Aime Desjy was a commanding winner on his return in the Lodge at Ashford Castle INH Flat Race.
A second winner in as many days for Willie Mullins, his son Patrick and the Roaringwater Syndicate, the seven-year-old son of No Risk At All was returned the 4/6 favourite. He was driven along to lead inside the last couple of furlongs and kept on strongly to score by seven lengths.
“Unfortunately, in each of the last two seasons he got a setback. It was nothing too serious but it just took him out for the season,” reported Patrick Mullins. “He’s a real chasing type who’ll go further and handle softer ground and I’d imagine we might go jumping with him before long and we’ll look for somewhere with plenty of juice in the ground. They did a beautiful job with the ground here and deserve plenty of credit for that.”
Keith Donoghue was seen at his best in the 80-109-rated Portwest Handicap Hurdle where he threaded the eye of the needle aboard Trevena (8/1) to claim a last-gasp triumph. Donoghue got his mount up between horses to land in front in the final few strides for a half-length success over Peace Party.
This was a second Ballinrobe winner of the season for Peter Flood, who trains the seven-year-old for the Railway View Stud Partnership, and it was Trevena’s first win since she landed a flat handicap at Newcastle in September 2018.