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Cleary claims Johnny Walker Cup

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 4th March, 2009 7:00am

THE 120th annual South Westmeath Hunt Point-to-Point at the Pigeons has been described by organisers as one of the most successful in its long and illustrious history.

With favourable conditions on Sunday, a total of 130 horses took part in nine races on the land of Arthur Moore at Listisson, The Pigeons, Athlone.

Local eyes were firmly fixed on the first race of the day, the confined hunt race (Johnny Walker Memorial Cup).

With prize money of €1,200, a total of six horses competed in this race and for the second year running, "Jack Monday" - owned and trained by Tom Cleary of Ballygowlan, Athlone, made all the running and finished first by a margin of five lengths from "Many Tiers".

This race - the fastest of the day - was run over three miles and 13 fences.

Speaking to the Westmeath Independent this week, Tom said he was delighted with the victory.

'I was particularly happy because we gave "Jack Monday" a race a few months ago and he pulled up through injury. He was doubtful ahead of the race but we kept minding him, coaxing him into different bits of training, and I was confident on the day once he got out there,' Tom said.

Tom now has his sights set on equalling the South Westmeath Point-to-Point record of three-wins-in-a-row, set by Brian Dillon and "Tidaro Abbey", at next year"s meeting.

"Jack Monday" was ridden by JD Moore, the son of well known trainer Arthur Moore.

Frank Daly, Chairman of the South Westmeath Hunt said: 'We were very fortunate with the weather after several years getting poor weather. The going was soft but very manageable and the track was in very good order. We had 130 horses and a total of nine races, and there was a very good attendance from the public.'

The winner of the second race, the Still William Cup for six year-old geldings, was "John Dillinger", while "Ross an Rí" claimed the honours in race three; the Pat Keegan Memorial Cup.

Due to the heavy amount of entrants, race four (Terry Bleakley Memorial Cup - mares maiden race) was divided into two separate races, with "Leney Con" and "Another Whiparound" proving the winners. Race six, The William Young Cup, was also divided into two races, with the winners "Euro Seeker" and "Chosen Man".

Meanwhile, "Backstage" took first place in race five - the Noel Dunning Memorial race for the Paddy Murray Perpetual Cup - and there was a total prize money fund of €7,500 divided between the nine races.

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