Collins saddles her first winner


SHEENA COLLINS, daughter of Curragh trainer Con, saddled her first winner since acquiring a trainer's licence when the Scenic newcomer Simons Castle stayed on under a strong ride from Andrew Coonan to beat All The Colours by a neck in the Battlemount INH Flat Race at Punchestown yesterday.

The winner, returned at 12 to 1, paid a staggering £350.80 on the Tote and is owned by the trainer's mother.

Guest Performance, who was a creditable eighth in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Leopardstown behind English raider Master Tribe, regained the winning thread in the four-runner Red Bog Hurdle.

Partnered by Garrett Cotter (20), who was recording his 18th success this season, Dessie Hughes's charge took full advantage when front-running Antapoura and Charlie Swan came to grief three out, leaving the well supported 11 to 10 chance to come home a convincing winner.

"He'll go for the Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran next and I'll put him in the Champion Hurdle. Depending on how he runs at Gowran, I'll decide on whether he goes to Cheltenham," said Hughes.

Michael Cunningham, trainer of runner-up Derrymoyle, expressed himself satisfied with his eight-year-old, who was returning to action after undergoing a wind operation since trailing in last behind Cockney Lad at the same venue last November.

Swan had better luck in the Rathside Handicap Chase when initiating a double on the Aidan O'Brien-trained Ballyhire Lad. The seven times National Hunt champion and O'Brien combined to take the Grangebeg Beginners Chase with Penndara, which set off in front at flagfall and kept up a strong gallop to account for Scenic Route by 10 lengths.

Garrett Cotter, who injured his shoulder after suffering a crashing fall on Johnny's Dream, missed out on a winning ride later in the afternoon on Blue Wave in the Tynte Park Maiden Hurdle. The winner completed a double for Dessie Hughes.

Well supported to 5 to 4 favourite on his hurdling debut and partnered by John Shortt, he battled on gamely under pressure to collar Iridal over the final flight to score by two lengths.

The Ballintaggart Handicap Hurdle, which produced the largest field of the afternoon with 25 runners, went to the Ger Hourian-trained Vasiliki who stayed on under a strong drive from Conor O'Dwyer to beat Coolree Lord by four lengths.

The layers had no reprieve in the Newtown Boy Handicap Hurdle when the gambled on Valley Erne justified support from 6 to 1 to 7 to 2. Shane Broderick produced Valley Erne with a perfectly timed challenge to beat Good Glow by three-parts of a length.