O’Keeffe’s Vital Island makes it four-in-a-row

By Dan Walsh at Lingstown, Tomhaggard

There was an amazing outcome to the Neville Hotels Open Race ‘over the banks’ at lovely Lingstown with victory going to Vital Island, who was winning this race for the fourth year in a row and plans to run at next Spring’s Punchestown Festival.

The nine-year-old gelding owned and trained by Richard O’Keeffe, Newtown, Taghmon, was always travelling and jumping well with Tiernan Power Roche in the saddle and held off the Gordon Elliott trained Mighty Stowaway (Barry O’Neill) by half a length on the line. Local rider Roche was on board for the second successive season in this prestigious race and was recording his 25th career success.

Runners clear one of the Lingstown banks with the winner Vital Island (No. 12) nicely placed at this early stage of the big race today.

The card off to a perfect start with the appropriately named Off To A Flyer obliging by two lengths in the maiden race for four year olds for Kilkenny rider John O’Neill. Running in the colours of the Baltimore Stables Syndicate Off To A Flyer is handled by Ellen Doyle, Coolgarrow, Enniscorthy, who also saddled the runner-up Hitching Jacking (Rob James). Afterwards, Ellen said she was happy with the victory and the sales ring beckons.

The auction maiden race for four-year-olds went to Superstylin and rider Shane O’Rourke, Foulksmills, riding his 45th career winner, by eight lengths. This was a second winner for handler Thomas Byrne from Ballygranigan, Kilmore, who has six horses in training, and he confirmed that Superstylin is bound for the sales.

Only two runners faced the starter for the maiden race for five-year-old mares and three and a half lengths separated the Dan Nevin ridden Rock On Cassie for owner/handler Martin Corrigan from Ballinaclash, Blackwater, who has enjoyed two wins and two seconds since the start of the new season, and the runner-up, Whisky River (Rob James) for Richard O’Keeffe, who was later compensated by the success of Vital Island.

Hard Lines, ridden by Jack Hendrick, Mayglass, proved best of the nine runners at the end of the maiden race for five-year-old geldings. He is owned by Billy Bates, Kilmore, and the successful handler is Michael Bates.

Crowds gather to get the best view of the Lingstown Bank Race this afternoon.

Colin Bowe and Barry O’Neill waited until the final race of the day to get on the scoreboard. Wildfield Ivy, owned and bred by Michael Kinsella, Kilkenny, had four lengths to spare at the finish of the maiden race for six-year-olds and upwards.  This was O’Neill’s 20th win of the season.

Weather conditions were much better than expected for the end of November and there was a good attendance. Kilinick Harriers will stage an additional fixture next Sunday, December 5th, so racing two Sundays in a row at Lingstown.

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