Heffernan is hot to topple Treasure
Money talked in the markets for the opening flat races at Listowel yesterday when Pirateer, Queenie Keen and debutante Alanza all rewarded those who followed the betting trends.
Backed solidly from 6/1 to 4/1 on-course, the Danehil Dancer colt Pirateer benefited from a Cape Blanco-style ride by Seamie Heffernan to open his account and trump Ballydoyle stable companion and Premier Nursery hotpot Treasure Beach in the process.
Taken to the front from the outset, Pirateer which was rated a stone inferior to the top weight had his destiny firmly in Heffernan's hands as they entered the closing stages and it was soon a case of catch me if you can with the favourite trapped in a pocket.
Thus, it was a case of deja vu for Treasure Beach's teenage partner Joseph O'Brien who had also found trouble in running at a crucial stage a year ago when Joshua Tree was unable to reel in Puncher Clynch as yesterday's leader got home by a length and a half.
One of the season's in-form youngsters, Michael Halford's protege Conor Hoban — fresh from major handicap successes on Hujaylea — landed a real touch for the Kildangan yard on Queenie Keen in the Gerry Duffy Handicap.
This time those who helped shorten the Refuse To Bend filly from early offers of 9/2 into 11/4 in the ring were on good terms with themselves throughout after Westport native Hoban had managed to cross from a wide draw to command the favoured rails berth.
Having allowed Sovereign Secure to dispute the advantage until rounding the last bend, 19-year-old Hoban wasted no time in sending Halford's charge clear for his eight career win to the delight of owner-breeder Nicholas Hartery.
In contrast John Oxx and Fran Berry combined for their second juvenile scorer in four days when the Aga Khan's Alanza came from a seemingly hopeless position to mow down prime market fancy Independent Girl in the fillies' maiden.
Punters were playing up their winnings in advance of the John F McGuire Novice Chase with both Glenstal Abbey (11/4 to 9/4) and Kotkidy (5/1 to 100/30) coming in for sustained support before they experienced varying fortunes out on the track.
Bowling along in an extending lead starting the final circuit, Kotkidy paid the penalty for hitting the sixth last fence and that left Glenstal Abbey to hit the target for the third time in four outings from Charlie Swan's stable for whom this has proved a lucky event over the years.
Swan and David Casey then were responsible for the ITBA Novice Hurdle favourite Lonesome Dove, but this Cork bumper winner last winter never looked happy on her jumping debut and trailed home behind Wexford trainer Bernadette Murphy's Benefit Scheme.
Normal transmission was soon resumed for backers in the Ladbrokes Ireland Handicap Hurdle, Ruby Walsh delivering Tony Martin's Salute Him with a devastating burst from two out to run right away from Rockazar and Split Ear in the colours of London-based Patsy Byrne.