ANNAGHMORE last Sunday was always going to be a small meeting as the fixture fell a week after the Irish American weekend.
Some of the Dublin, and all of the Cork stables, chose to race at the excellent field at Lyre on Saturday. On the day, Jonny Cowden drove the winner of the highest-class pace. Cowden guided Arts Closure (3/1 to 7/2) to end a long fallow period in the B to F grade pace.
Gavin Murdock is still laid up with an ankle injury. Gavin tried to come back at the Irish American weekend, but this only served to aggravate the problem.
He enjoyed a training double on the day, with Sea The Stars driven by Jay Morrison and Tango partnered by Martin Loughran.
Jonny Cowden has been quiet by his own high standards in 2022. The Corey’s and the Cowdens have a symbiotic relationship, as Jonny and his father Noel stable in a separate barn at the Corey farm. Kevin Corey has trained over a third of Jonny’s 70-odd career wins and can use both Jonny and his own son Adam when he has two engaged.
Bided his time
On the day Adam stayed with 2021 Horse of the Year Double Deuce whereas Jonny was on the less fancied Arts Closure. Lyons Nant Hall (Wattie Stewart) set a blistering pace and Cowden bided his time before pouncing in the last quarter.
“He raced great,” said Jonny after racing. “I got a dream trip. I thought I would have to go forward early or take back. Instead I got a lovely run round and he was good enough to win it.”
A 2’03.4 was the official time. The track is freshly laid with river bed aggregate. The surface gives great cushion but it will take time to bed in hence all the times were two or three seconds off ‘standard’.
The Murdock runners will know every pebble on the track. Sea The Stars made it two in a row in the grade G pace. The stallion is only winning low grade paces so far but as he is a skewbald, these wins over solid coloured horses enhance his reputation.
He already has over a 100 foals on the ground but unfortunately very few of these will go to proper regulated racing.
The second leg of Gavin’s training double came when Tango shed his maiden tag for Fermanagh owner Neil McDermot. Only Go For Silk (Simon Duggan) put up meaningful resistance and the winner will face stiffer tasks in his career.
The owner has endured bad luck with a few horses and the well-made son of sire of the moment Foreclosure looks a nice prospect. A time of 2’06 was the winner’s clock.
The ‘Cooley Magician’ Martin Loughran was out of luck at the Irish American Weekend but he made it a double here as he drove the well-supported Tango (evens best) and also High Speed Efbe which he trains himself. High Speed Efbe beat Esperanza Lou Lou (John Richardson) who has been claimed for humble money.
The remaining trot on the card was for grades A to D and went to Dream Paradise (7/2) for the Cavan husband and wife team of Bernard and Gail Nicholson. The couple turn out great results from a small number of horses in training.
Dream Paradise looked well-schooled for his task and saw off the Loughran runner Energy Oaks.
Full results and fixture information can be seem at www.irishharnessracing.com.
Lyre, near Clonaklity stages the action today while Portmarnock Raceway (off the R107 Malahide Road, turn in at Kinsealy Chapel) is the venue tomorrow.
The northern outpost, Annaghmore Raceway intends to hold a two-day gala meeting over the 25th and 26th June to celebrate the opening of the new clubhouse.
SUPREME Sunshine with the ageless John Boyle in the bike stole the limelight at the first meeting of the year at Lyre on Saturday.
Ten pacers (the maximum for the track) faced the starter in the top-grade pace of the afternoon. Royal Armbro led for the opening quarter but was headed by Supreme Sunshine at the mile pole.
With two furlongs to pace, some of the runners encountered interference, but Boyle on Supreme Sunshine avoided trouble and stayed on to win by two lengths from Brywins Starship.
Boyle (78) is the oldest driver on the West Cork circuit. By contrast one of the youngest drivers Fionn O’Reilly won with the veteran pacer Rhyds Panache.
The pair led early but Honor Code hit the front on the run past the judge followed by Share A Smile. Rhyds Panache forged clear turning for home and was actually eased up for a one-length win.
“He just loves it here in Lyre and to be fair Fionn is getting a great tune out of him. He’s the ideal horse for him steady as a rock,” Chris O’Reilly, the winning owner and father of Fionn told The Irish Field afterwards.
Patrick Kane jnr made the journey down from Summerhill, Co Meath a fruitful one with a win in the four- and five-year-old Trot on Irish Good Dream who is trained locally by Jamie Hurley. Kane was in front early and did not see another rival winning by two lengths from Highlands Princess.
The Grade F Trot produced the best finish of the afternoon. On the final Lap Humour De Cosse and driver Patrick Hill had crept closer but Patrick had to sit and suffer behind the leaders.
Turning for home, the front pair moved off the inside line and Hill produced Humour De Cosse through the gap to get up on the line and deny Dubai Lady and Cyrano De Liton.
The win was an early candidate for drive of the year for Leap-based Hill. The winner is owned by his father Pete.
Racing opened with a first-time-out win for Well Cuz and Limerick-based Richard Phelan. The three-year-old son of Well Said didn’t put a foot wrong and came home three lengths in front of race favourite Foxfield Ranger who made a few mistakes but won’t be too long without a win.
Timmy Moloney from Grange is having a great start to the season and that winning run continued when Ayr Majesty landed the honours in the Grade F & E Pace.
IB Felicity tried to make all this time but the winner was always in touching distance and was in front with two furlongs remaining and held on to win by a length and a half.
All the rage
Fina Mix was all the rage in the grade F E & D Trot and this seven-year-old mare justified that support leading from the start and eventually had 14 lengths to spare at the finish. Seamus Quill from Ballingeary owns the winner and his nephew Seamus was the winning driver.
Racing closed with another favourite obliging. There was drama a plenty in this with Harry Knows, Bibi Dairpet and Beach De Belleout all leading at certain points in the race. Donal Murphy sat behind the front trio on Comete Des Landes.
Turning for home Harry Knows and Bibi Dairpet went off stride allowing Comete Des Landes his chance to pounce and lead. Harry Knows came back to challenge close home but the bird had flown.
The track was in splendid condition with a huge vote of thanks going to landowner Ger Hegarty.