Johneen storms in to cheer Rooney


JOHNEEN, who opened his seasonal account with victories at Naas and Navan, bounced back to winning ways in the featured Jameson Ulster National Handicap Chase at Downpatrick yesterday.

Trained by Rosemary Rooney, now based near Clonmel, the 10 year old was providing in form rider Conor O'Dwyer with his 60th winner this term and his third win in the Ulster National.

O'Dwyer, who has partnered Johneen to all five victories to date, had his mount prominent throughout and he stayed on well in the testing conditions to beat Novello Allegro and Kevin O'Brien, who put up 1lb overweight, by one and a half lengths.

He might go for the £20,000 sponsors bonus in the Jameson Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse in April, depending on the weights allocated," said Rooney. Ironically the last horse to win the Ulster and Irish Nationals in the same year was Bentom Boy in 1984, trained by Rosemary Rooney's late father, Willie.

Tom Martin, the rider of Arctic Treasure, was kicked by a horse before the start. His mount was withdrawn and Martin was taken to hospital with a suspected broken ankle. The jockey had earlier partnered Gravity Gate to victory in the opening maiden hurdle.

Another rider in the wars was Colm McBratney who took a crashing fall from Rontom in the Heart Of Down Hunters Chase, won by Corymandel. As he received a kick on the head McBratney was forced to stand down for 21 days by the Turf Club medical officer.