All roads led to Ollie and Olga Carroll’s well-situated farm at Ballydurn outside Kilmacthomas on Easter Sunday for the Waterford Foxhounds’ annual point-to-point fixture.
Whilst there were some 13 races and 174 individual runners, the vast majority of local interest centered on the confined maiden. A total of 11 runners faced the starter with victory ultimately going to Boxing Along, trained just a mile away from the course in Newtown by his 23-year-old owner Vincent Halley.
The 2/1 favourite Kilcash Connection, handled by Eric Larkin, made the best of his way home from the second last of the 15 obstacles with five-time point-to-point champion Derek O’Connor. Boxing Along (5/1) however wouldn’t give up and the winning five-year-old stormed past in the shadow of the post to score by a neck under 22-year-old Butlerstown amateur Paul Power in one of the closest finishes of the afternoon. David O’Brien’s Dinnie Win finished third on his career debut a further 15 lengths adrift in third spot.
“He’s a real chaser in the making and we will probably go to the track with him now,” said restricted training licence-holder Halley who acquired Boxing Along at last year’s Derby sale.
The remainder of the afternoon belonged to north Cork amateur Mikey O’Connor as he partnered a sparkling four-timer.
O’Connor, who actually sustained a collapsed lung in a fall at the cloyne meeting on March 15th returning to action some two weeks later, kicked off aboard Liam Burke’s Where’s My Soul (3/1) in the second division of the winners of one.
Absent since finishing a creditable fourth at Carrigtwohill in mid-February, Where’s My Soul led from the second last to beat Hold Em Cowboy by one and a half lengths in the colours of Denman’s joint-owner Mrs Margaret Findlay.
“This horse got a bleed to the hoof at Carrigtwohill and it held him up for a month,” related Burke. “He’s still not fully wound up and I will probably give him one more run in a point. He will go across to be trained by Evan Williams next season.”
O’Connor later won all three divisions of the six-year-old geldings’ maiden and he kicked off aboard Eoghan O’Grady’s Saddlers Melody (3/1) in the first instalment. Patiently ridden, Saddlers Melody led before the last to defeat Logan Road by three lengths in the colours of O’Grady’s father Arthur.
Ballyclough handler O’Grady also supplied the 28-year-old with his final success courtesy of Benniegiblin (7/2) in the third heat. Bennigiblin, owned by the elder O’Grady in partnership with Ger O’Leary from Mallow, was produced with precision timing to lead in the closing stages to defeat Leitra House by one-length.
O’Connor also took the second split of this concluding event on Michael Winters’ Sonnes Castle (7/2), a teak-tough son of Windsor Castle that’s owned by Tony Mehigan but leased out to Eugene O’Leary and his son Dave.
Derek O’Connor maintained the momentum at the head of the riders’ championship by piloting three winners. The Galwegian kicked off aboard the hugely-exciting newcomer Prince Of Fire (6/4), whom Charlie Swan trains for Mrs Trish Hyde, in the first division of the four-year-old geldings’ maiden. The Hydes’ also won a division of this same race with Cool Operator two years ago when the meeting was staged in Curraghmore.
The in-form Robert Tyner provided O’Connor with his final success courtesy of the recent Liscarroll third Penny Money (2/1) in the second division of the five-year-old mares’ maiden.
The five-time champion also landed the second split of the five-year-old geldings’ maiden on Pat Doyle’s Shieldwall (5/4), who was most unlucky when occupying the runner-up berth at Durrow in late March.
Shieldwall’s owners’ Gigginstown House Stud also collected the first part of this same race with Gates Of Rome (5/1), trained by the absent Colm Murphy and ridden by Jamie Codd.
Gowran owner/trainer Kevin O’Donnell’s recent Liscarroll victress Miss Mary Mac (10/1) struck the front before two out with Timmy O’Callaghan to oblige in the first division of the winners of one from What An Flyer.
The Eoin Griffin-trained newcomer Whats Up Woody (7/1), owned by Ger Hickey from Mount Uniacke in east Co Cork, showed all the correct qualities to collect the third section of the four-year-old geldings’ maiden under Bon O’Neill. Donal Coffey’s Gurtacrue (8/1) meanwhile landed the second part of this same contest in the hands of Pat Collins whilst Maurice Barry’s homebred Ballymac’s Present (7/2) gamely made all the running to contain Isle Of The Celts with Richie Harding in the first split of the five-year-old mares’ maiden.