A delighted Evanna McCutcheon, Kim Ronan and Long Strand
©Healy Racing Photos
Maarek's trainer, David Nagle showed his versatility at the Killinick Harriers point-to-point meeting at Lingstown, Tomhaggard, County Wexford last Sunday when saddling a winner in the shape of Long Strand. Ridden by Nagle's partner, Evanna McCutcheon, the eight-year-old impressively landed the Keating Horse Transport Open Lightweight Race Nomination over the banks course.
Twice a winner when with Charlie Swan, Long Strand was well-fancied for last Sunday's three miler, despite being available to back at fancy-prices.
Favourite, Theroadtocroker wasn't helped when hampered at one of the banks and he never really got into it off a strong pace set by Gothic Love.
When that grey cried enough around the bottom of the course, it was left to the lady-ridden pair, O'Muircheartaigh (Susan Oakes up) and Long Strand to fight it out.
However it was no contest from before the last as Long Strand (unfortunately lost his chance when taking the wrong course at Punchestown previously) stretched away in great style to triumph by twenty lengths.
Nagle explained: "He'll do more of the same in the future. Evanna is suspended (for the upcoming cross-country) for Tattersalls. He'll probably stay in open lightweights and we'll go to Punchestown in February.
"A lot of people didn't cop in Punchestown that he went the wrong side of a flag. He went back the right way and still jumped the third last a length off the leaders – he was a furlong behind at one stage.
"John Cullen rode him that day and he came in and said it doesn't matter where you go with him – he'll win.
"He's a horse that always showed a lot but he'd never put two runs together. We got a back man in to see him and he seems to be a different horse since.
"He was third in Punchestown at the Festival behind Arabella Boy and Outlaw Pete last season so we'd be hoping he'll be a decent banks horse.
"Evanna said on Sunday that he was about the only horse she ever rode that she had to steady up to jump the last.
"To be fair to him I'd say he'd be a horse that would go on any ground.
"He was fourth in Dundalk in a two mile maiden last year.
"I don't want to blow him up too much but I'd be hoping he'd be competitive in the hunter chasing scene.
"The cross-country has given him a new lease of life." (EM)