THE Halloween meeting at Portmarnock saw 21-year-old Jonny Cowden from Belfast drive the only double on the nine-race card.

Jonny who rides out in the Stuart Crawford National Hunt yard every morning won with his father Noel’s Beat The Clock and also with Kevin Corey’s Fairdays Western.

The races were well populated although the crowd was sparse.

The winners were spread throughout the country with four trained in the north, four from Dublin and one from Co Cork.

Jonny’s double commenced when he guided Beat The Clock to a 2:01.4 victory in a competitive-looking grade E pace. Lyons Nant Hall (Darren Timlin) showed a glimpse of his early career speed leading for the first half.

Beat The Clock went on at Peters Paddock last time round. The well-supported A Kind Of Magic (Alan Wallace snr) gave chase but the bird had flown.

The remarkable Fairdays Western, now 11, produced another gutsy performance to take the A to D pace. The connections believe the gelding is better from the front. However, he has won from behind over his eight years in combat and did so on Sunday.

Ladyford Dollar (Patrick Kane jnr) got to the top without any real resistance and looked to be sitting pretty at the half. Cowden bustled Fairdays Western up on the outside to test the leader’s resolve.

The combination kept alongside Ladyford Dollar for most of the back straight and Jonny held a bit in reserve for the final eighth. Ladyford Dollar petered out and was third, second place going to a staying on IB A Magician, a catch drive for Ray Sheridan.

Stable star

The patriarch of the Corey clan, Seamus, explained to compere Peter Quirke that the yard, high above Belfast, keeps horses healthy. “The later in the season the better he gets,” was Seamus’ summary of the stable star.

Cyclone Decouriere has been expensive to follow in recent weeks but showed his undoubted ability in the D to E trot. Daniel McAteer had no choice but to come four wide on the home turn and the nine-year-old had the pace to mow down the field in the stretch.

The Randalstown-based driver attributed the win to some equipment changes, including a full mesh mask over the horse’s eyes.

Leading apprentice Calvin Broughan was on the runner-up, his own Bingo de Connee.

The final Ulster-based winner was Coumbaya Wind (evens fav) for Omagh-based Cathal Kerrigan. Cathal and his father Paddy are great supporters of the IHRA scene, and this was a popular win. Kerrigan took the mare to the lead from the number four draw on the gate, and the result was never in doubt.

Sean Kane continued his recent good run in winning the opener with Dragee du Lys. Jonny Cowden was second with Diamond Dash, while Patrick Kane began a rare winless afternoon in third with Athlete Royale.

JR gets one back

Patrick’s nearest pursuer in the drivers’ title, John Richardson, clawed back one winner in the shape of the mercurial Dusty Jiel in the B and C trot.

Duc d’Arry, a newcomer for the Murphy yard made the backers of the favourite (6/4 best) sweat as they came with a rattle to force a photo. The minimum distance, a nose was bad news for the layers.

Dusty Jiel was the second winner on the day to wear a face mesh. The theory is that this keeps track dirt off the horses’ face and can also make the horse braver, to a degree.

Donal went one better aboard Thomond O’Mara’s Comete des Landes in the grade A trot. The mare is clearly well thought of down on Innis Beg island and as there has been a steady stream of top-class horses through the yard, their swans are never geese.

Donal also stated in the post-race interview how he was impressed by the Irish debut of Duc d’Arry. Celui de Laye was an honourable second for Jonny Cowden.

Greys are relatively unusual in the Standardbred breed, although Greyhound in the 1930s and Laag (foaled 1984) were both champions in their day.

Joe Caffrey’s Nineteen Forty Seven is a great grandson of the latter and has some way to go to match the achievements.

Nineteen Forty Seven made it two from two in the G grade pace and is clearly growing in confidence. Pixie Camden (Patrick Kane jnr) was the bridesmaid.

Recently deceased Liam Wallace will be smiling down as the grade G pace was a one-two for runners from the fabled Newtown Stud. Newtown Revenge and Liam’s grandson, Alan jnr justified market support to win the grade F pace. Newtown Alana with the plucky Leah Mc Nevin was beaten a neck in second.

Racing continues every Sunday at Portmarnock Raceway until December 5th.

Spectators old and new are welcome. Turn in at Kinsealey Chapel off the R107. Full race cards and results can be viewed at Some Sundays offer a livestream on the IHRA Facebook page.

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At Nov 2nd

Pat Kane jnr, Trim 44

John Richardson, Dublin 36

Jonny Cowden, Belfast 29

Sean Kane, The Naul 28

Donal Murph,y Baltimore 27

Billy Roche, Dublin 20

Gavin Murdock, Belfast 20