Friday 23 March 2018

Connor King can rule on the double

Connor King
Connor King
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

THE north Cork village of Kilbrin is the envious source of two of the most precocious young talents currently gracing the horse racing and hurling ranks.

Both sports have long boasted hard-core support in the area, though it tended to be of the grass roots variety until Connor King and William Egan came along.

Archbishop Croke, after whom Croke Park is named, was born in the junior hurling stronghold, as was the dual Cheltenham Festival-winning titan Monsignor.

While those two achieved their fame after departing the parish, King and Egan announced their respective prodigious talents as teen residents, and continue to be intrinsically linked with the locality.

When you factor in the profile also being enjoyed right now by Mick Winters and Anthony Nash from the nearby town of Kanturk, the Duhallow region is in the midst of something akin to a golden era.

In Sunday's All-Ireland final, Egan will join Nash by donning the blood and bandages in the quest for eternal glory on the hallowed turf that has immortalised the nationalist Archbishop.

King might yet get the opportunity to ply his trade on an equally exalted stage, but the gifted 17-year-old must settle for a modest Clonmel outing this evening.

Having already ridden at Roscommon, Laytown and Gowran Park this week, it seems as though his Leaving Certificate studies will take a back seat during the first school term at least.

Winners go a long way to justifying doing as much, and he should extend his yawning lead in the apprentices' championship with victories on Mighty Whitey and Orator in the opening two races on the mixed card.

Trained by King's employer, David Wachman, Orator is a very solid option in the weak-looking 10-furlong maiden, having found only one too good in each of his last four starts.

In the older horses' handicap over the same trip, Ian Queally, a native of Fanore in Co Clare who, like King, is a 17-year-old who made a big name for himself on the pony racing circuit, gets the nod to score on Philip Fenton's Lady Geronimo.

The day's nap vote goes to Grove Field under Mark Bolger in the maiden hurdle. Colm Murphy's charge was a staying-on second to Another Ambition at Cork last time, form that has been franked by the fourth, Baidin Fheilimi, obliging twice since.

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