Although easy to back at 5/1, Netherville Hawk was a deserved winner in the final of the Barber Kennels Pups & Saplings Tri-Distance, the last event on Dundalk Stadium’s 2013 calendar.
The race was over the 620, and everything pointed to a win for Stateside Troika. Made a 2/5 shot on the strength of a record-breaking 575 run in the opening round, followed by a hard-earned semi-final win over the 600, the favourite represented Robert Gleeson’s Derby-winning Rathangan, Co Kildare, kennel.
But in a race for which the other semi-final winner, Art McGrory’s Gorey Misty, was an absentee, Stateside Troika, while always on the premises, couldn’t find a way past the game Netherville Hawk. Michael Kearns’ Balbriggan runner was in front passing the stands for the first time, and was still there rounding the opening turn.
Stateside Troika and Gymstar Jumbo, the latter running for Peter Noone’s Cooley Peninsula kennel, joined issue in the back, and given how far back he had come from in the semi-final before finishing a length-and-a-half in front of Netherville, Stateside, only a length in arrears, would have been much shorter than his starting-price had there been in-running betting.
But Netherville, as game as they come, wasn’t for catching. Though never more than a length to the good, the well-made daughter of Westmead Hawk and Fois Gras kept battling on, and she held her advantage over the favourite all the way to the line, clocking 33.98.
The field bunched coming towards the line, Airport Hostess taking third, a half-length off Stateside Troika, and Gymstar Jumbo and Paul McDonnell’s Darver King close up in fourth and fifth, respectively.
There were no wins for Martin Lanney at this 103rd and final meeting of the year at the Dowdallshill venue, but .Co Meath man had still enough winners to his credit to take the trainer of the year award.
Colm Farrelly had the final winner on the card, his very consistent Course I Can leading from flag-fall to justify favouritism, but the Hackballscross man came up short in his bid for the leading owner award.
This went to the Jones brothers, Laurence and Brian, whose runners found a rich vein of form in the last couple of months, the vast majority of them home-bred and kennelled at Laurence’s place in Corduff, just outside Carrickmacross.
Clinching the title completed a good Christmas period for the brothers; earlier on Saturday their Figaro looked very promising when taking the Derby Trial Stake at the Dundalk & Dowdallshill coursing meeting.
The new season at Dundalk Stadium commences this Friday night, when there will also be horse racing.