FORTFIELD River (Eoin Rua/Fortfield Blonde) claimed the biggest prize of his career to date when capturing the John Prendiville Cup held in the club grounds at Listowel last weekend.
A Trial stake winner at Killimer / Kilrush last season, the Jim McMahon trained runner opened at odds of 10/1 although these odds tumbled as the Ballybunion runner set the fastest clocks over the opening rounds on Saturday afternoon. He faced Liscannor Derby qualifier Tilford Tom for a place in the last four, and the North Kerry runner powered to victory by a three length winning margin.
He produced another big performance in the penultimate course as he hit the front early against the Pa Fitzgearld trained Room For Ruso, and had opened a winning margin of four lengths by the opening turn. Tilford Dream, owned by Peter McGrath from Listowel had looked equally impressive as he progressed to the final course of the day from the bottom half of the draw. It was evenly poised on both the clock cards and the bookies boards as the pair were sent to slips the jointly priced at odds of 4/6.
However, it was Fortfield River running off the red collar who started the better and quickly had his head in front to open a lead, which had extended to three lengths as they neared their game for the opening turn. The winner is owned by Jerry McMahon and no doubt will be in the shakeup for further honours as the season progresses.
Tarbert's John Flynn booked another classic ticket as he produced Dependable (Bexhill Eoin / Wee Beauty) to take the plaudits in the Oaks qualifier.
In what were tough underfoot conditions she showed plenty of stamina and durability throughout the competition and was the 1/3 odds on favourite going to slips in the final course against Kierans Choice. The bookmakers got this one spot on as Flynn's Febuary puppy showed a clean pair of heels from slips and quickly opened up an unassailable four length advantage, which proved to be the winning margin.
Owen McKenna made the long trip from his NewInn base worthwhile as NewInn Wonder (Razor Ashmore / NewInn All In) proved best in the Derby Trial Stake. He looks a real decent sort and his clocks were impressive throughout the stake. His final opponent was the local runner Nickies Rio, however, he had no answer to the early pace of the Tipperary runner, who ran out a comfortable four length winner in the final.
Owned by a syndicate, who hail from NewInn, the winner will no doubt feature prominently in the betting for this season's derby and on this showing he may well be a major player.
Call Me Kerry (Eoin Rua / Inspiring) collected the points in the All Age Bitch Stake for Abbeyfeale trainer Jerry O'Sullivan. She took on Awe and Wonder in the final and looked to have things wrapped up early on as she had opened a two length advantage by halfway.
However, last season's Oaks quarter-finalist made a late bid for victory, with Call Me Kerry holding on Stoutly for a half length win. The winner is owned by John Morrissey from Fethard Tipperary.
The final of the Maurice Cahill Cup pitted Correct March (March Is On / Beautiful Smile) and Oldfield Chief against each other with victory going to the Correct March by four lengths. The winner is owned by Stephen O'Carroll from Listowel.
The action switches to Ballyduff this weekend with the Kit Browne North Kerry Cup being the feature on the card.