Day At The Track

Curtain rises on start of Annaghmore race meet

11:58 AM 27 May 2017 NZST
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Rhyds Cobbler, harness racing Harness racing
Rhyds Cobbler and driver Simon Duggan with winning connections at Annaghmore
Carmel Stewart photo
Race fans at Annaghmore
Carmel Stewart photo
County Armagh, Ireland - The curtain rose on Annaghmore's 2017 season with an ultra competitive 5 race programme on Wednesday evening where a bumper crowd seen some of Irelands harness racing stars come out to play for the first time this campaign.
 
All races were covered on Facebook live for those who could not be present, a pioneering move in keeping with the worldwide trend of broadcasting harness racing events live as they happen so all credit to Annaghmore for leading the charge in Ireland in this regard.
 
The opening race on the card for Grade G & G1 pacers was won by Triplicate driven by Jonathan Dunne in 2:02.6. By the mighty Doonbeg whose progeny are experiencing a purple patch in the UK at present out of US import Tripleplay Hanover.
 
The four year old bay gelding came with a storming late challenge to defeat Alicolt which looked to have the race in the bag turning for home. Early leader Pandercrombie held on for third sport ahead of Meadow Camden with the winning margins 1 1/2 lengths and 4 lengths respectively.

Best Of Lou Lou looked to have the race at her mercy last Sunday at Portmarnock, but popped off-stride in the shadows of the post. The Noel Ryan driven french trotter made no such mistakes on Wednesday in the Grade D, E & F cruising to a bloodless victory over Tamalou Perrine and Bavoure De Mai in 2:05 .2 to the delight and relief of owner-trainer John Morgan from Omeath.

Newtown Rock was a notable non-runner from the next event the C,D,E,& F pacing handicap which went the way of Rhyds Cobbler in a thrilling finish. Springhill KG had led them a merry dance in this and it looked as if Jonathan Dunnes charge had enough left in the tank to repel all challengers.
 
Simon Duggan had other ideas however and sent Rhyds Cobbler into overdrive at the 3/4 pole and the Hasty Hall bred sprinted from last to first to land the spoils by a length in 2:00.1. The luckless Springhill KG hung on for second spot a further half length ahead of Meadowbranch Kiki.

Six french trotters graded A, B & C faced the starter in the penultimate race with Une De Donzy first to show pursued by Solicitor and Urmine De Mai. Favourite Umbratica spent the first circuit gradually wearing down her initial 20 yard handicap and when asked to quicken by driver John Richardson on the back straight for the final time the response was immediate.
 
Moving alongside Une De Donzy rounding the final bend Umbratica battled her way to the front and past the post with a half length to spare in 2:05.3 with Solicitor another length back in third spot.

There wasnt a dry eye in the house after the final race on the card, the A, B & C pacing handicap, when the locally trained Astounding held on to deny red-hot favourite Porterstown Road in an epic battle up the home straight.
 
Partnered by Martin McSparron, Astounding was driving all last season without winning by young Kyle McSparron who tragically passed away in the off-season so this first win for the McSparron family was all the more poignant.
 
A spontaneous round of applause on his post victory parade warmed the bumper crowds hearts on what was a chilly evening and its moments like these that make harness racing the best equine sport in the world.
 
Clocking an impressive 1:59 the combination had a length and a half to spare over Porterstown Road with another 5 lengths back to Rhyds Boots in third.

Annaghmore run again on Saturday 5th June with a full card of PACING RACES ONLY scheduled so purists of this discipline will relish the first such card of this type in many years.
 
A guaranteed record crowd is expected and with prizemoney of £500 per race - paid in cash on the day, the card will fill up fast so please text all entries to Carmel Stewart on 0044 7891005707.

All of Wednesdays races can be viewed on the NI Standardbred Association Facebook page.

by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink
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