LINGSTOWN MIGHT well be the most south-easterly track in the country, but that didn't save it from the impact of driving wind and rain which lashed the country at the Killinick Harriers pointto-point.
Sundays in Ireland seem to be a near certainty these days to deliver not just damp, dreary winter days but ones that in all truth dogs, let alone horses, wouldn't be put out in. So hats off to all who braved the elements at Lingstown, and those that made it were treated to a number of notable performances well worth remembering for future reference.
The early start of 10.30 a.m. more than likely caught a few out, with many turning up well into the day. The early start was in place to accommodate the high number of races expected given the entry level of 208, but with a 51% declaration, 106 horses faced the starter's flag and saw only three races divided, giving us a nine-race card.
This was a bit of a surprise as the ground was officially soft, and if you had made an entry for the day you would know that the track at Lingstown never races on anything heavier due to the sandy soil! So just why 49% opted out of running is a mystery, and we will never know.
Even with one fence on the back straight having to be omitted in all races, the competition on the track was fierce, with local yards finding it surprisingly hard to generate a winner. Only John Walsh, Liz Doyle and Ger Corrigan raised a winning flag.
Local hero, Jamie Codd, did his championship bid no harm with a fine treble, putting him on the 15-winner mark for the season heading into the last two weekends of the autumn campaign.
Codd opened his account in the first division of the five-year-old geldings' maiden when winning on 'Mac's Return'. This son of 'Flemensfirth' made an eye-catching debut in the colours of the winning trainer, Liz Doyle's father, Fred.
Always in touch, he stode clear two fences from the finish to win. Highly thought of prior to winning this, the horse is now for sale according to Liz Doyle. Codd must have been pleased to have opened his account in this race as the winning trainer suggested that he had turned down a few other options to get the leg up on this one. Bought at the Tattersall's Derby Sale in 2011, the well-related horse could have a bright future if progressing.
Codd's third winner came in the concluding older horses' maiden with the second division falling to 'Balynaclash Warrior'. Trained and owned in Blackwater by Ger Corrigan, this six-yearold son of 'Norwich' was sent into the lead from flag fall by Codd and stayed on well to win. This horse was opening his account at the sixth time of asking, and a run or two inside the rails could be next on the agenda for Corrigan's charge.
Totally different tactics were employed by Codd in the winners' contest on board the seven-year-old 'Snurge' gelding, 'Bothar Clei'. Owned and trained by Daniel Murphy, Codd had this horse out the back of the ten-unner field and only played his cards on the run in to the finishing line to get up close to home.
Successful in a maiden last time out, this was one of the riding performances of the day as Codd got past the long-time leader, 'Beake Boy', snugly. Indications from winning connections were that a run in a hunter chase might well be on the cards if the horse was not sold in the meantime. In truth, everything seems to be for sale these days, so that's no surprise.
After 20 years of trying, Duncormick man John Walsh finally had his day in the sun. Well, not quite sun, but that didn't matter as he congratulated his winner, 'Lady Amber', after the daughter of 'Gold Well' took the five-year-old mares' maiden.
Ridden by Gary Murphy, he had the mare always towards the front and was upsides 'Cara Vic' when this one, trained by John Berry, fell at the last. Winning her maiden at her fourth attempt in the colours of Tom Moran, Walsh intends to send her to the track after this victory as he believes that she is getting the hang of settling in her races at this stage.
The highlight for many who attend the races at Lingstown is the banks course, and this time eleven horses of the original 16 faced the starter as they set out on the three-mile contest. Evanna McCutcheon has become a regular at this meeting in the past few years, and seems to have found a replacement for 'Lord Nellerie' who was victorious twice over the same track in the shape of 'Long Strand'.
Old reliable 'Gothic Love' set off in front, but the Kevin Doyle-trained mare could never get clear of the pursuing pack led by former top track horse, 'O Muircheartaigh'. This horse took it up four fences from home, quickly followed by 'Long Strand' who was eased into the lead before the last fence to win easily.
An eight-year-old son of 'Saddlers Hall', his winning trainer, Co. Tipperary-based David Nagle, stated later in the winners' enclosure that a trip to Punchestown for their banks race was very much on the cards. Ones to note include 'That Beats Banaher' who just didn't seem to quicken up when required at the business stage of the contest, but the Liam Kenny-trained horse might try his luck again over these obstacles at a later stage.
The four-year-old maiden was divided and the first division went to Co. Cork with 'Desertmore Stream', trained by Denis Leahy and ridden by James Carroll. This son of 'Celtic Swing' is highly thought of by connections and won this in an impressive fashion. The second division was exported to Co. Kilkenny with Tony Mullins training 'Bishopslough', a gelding by 'Fruits of Love', to win under Kevin Sheehan.
Philip Fenton and Kevin Power took the second division of the five-year-old maiden with the 'Milan' horse, 'Loudmouth', while 'Burren River', a sixyear-old by 'Amilynx', gave Co. Carlow-based Willie Murphy a win in the older horse maiden in the hands of Shane Carey.