At the time of writing, the Cheltenham festival is almost upon us and local trainers were to the forefront at last Thursday’s Clonmel meeting with Dungarvan-based handler John Queally saddling Ancient Days to oblige in the opening Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Maiden Hurdle. The Daylami-sired Ancient Days, who came into this race with a 112-rating, was sent into the lead by Andrew McNamara with three flights remaining and, whilst having to be called upon to raise his effort at the second last, the winning six-year-old asserted on the run-in to thwart Shazner by one and three quarter lengths. A chasing campaign is probable for Ancient Days at some stage.

Eamonn Gallagher, who trains just three horses at present at his Conna base, was on the mark with the teak-tough mare Backinthere in the Comeragh Handicap Hurdle. The eight-year-old Backinthere, representing Vincent Sheehan from Ballyduff Upper, made smooth progress to lead at the third last.