Ryan Farquhar has become the first Northern Irishman to win the Steve Henshaw Gold Cup at Oliver's Mount after a fine performance on the KMR Kawasaki, rounding off a tremendous seven wins at the circuit this year.

Farquhar achieved his feat in typical style, dominating the weekend by also winning both legs of the Darren Lindsay Superbike race, a brace of 600cc races for the David Jeffries Cup and both events held for the Phil Mellor Supertwins Trophy.

The Gold Cup though, gave Farquhar the opportunity to be the first Irishman to take this Jewel in the mainland's road racing crown, across the Irish Sea to Ulster for the first time in its 60 year history.

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There were some big names missing from the grid, reigning Cup holder Ian Hutchinson, still recovering from serious injury, and seven-time winner Guy Martin, who was forced to pull out of the event at the final hour after suffering a blood infection. Neither rider could be kept away from the meeting though, Lincolnshire ace Martin was getting about with the aid of crutches, and Yorkshireman Hutchinson present after having the metal framework removed from his leg earlier in the week.

That is to take nothing away from Ryan Farquhar though, with TT legend John McGuiness entered along with 131 time race winner, Ian Lougher, plus both Dunlop brothers on the grid, it was far from a walk in the park.

Farquhar on his KMR Kawasaki ZX-10R, although challenged by McGuiness into Mere hairpin on the first lap, was in the lead by the time they climbed Sheene Rise and, despite coming under constant pressure from the 'Morecombe Missile' on his smaller but arguably more nimble Padgetts Honda CBR600, the 35 year old star was never headed.

In tricky conditions he and McGuiness soon pulled a commanding lead over the fight for the final podium place between Ian Lougher, Michael Dunlop and a spirited display from Keith Pringle aboard his Suckin Rabbits Media Kawasaki ZX-6R.

At the flag it was Farquhar winning by nearly five seconds from McGuiness, with an average speed of over 75 mph and a best lap of 1m 54.897s around the tight and twisty 2.43 mile circuit. The pair were a further four seconds up the road from Lougher in third and Dunlop fourth who both used the extra power of their ZX-10 machines in improving conditions to overhaul Pringle who finished 5th.

"Conditions weren't the best and we were getting quite a bit of wheelspin out there, but it was good fun," Farquhar said. "John pushed me really hard at the beginning and then at about three-quarters distance I think he gave up, but he was up for it today"

"[The win] is very special. When you think of all the riders from Northern Ireland who have raced in the Gold Cup and never managed to win it then it brings it home to you. Joey [Dunlop], Phillip McCallen and Robert have all raced there, so it's nice to become the first Irishman to lift the trophy and I'm very proud of the achievement.

Although the Dunlop boys, William and Michael had previously confessed to treating the weekends racing as 'a bit of a holiday', it's in the genes to put 'the craic' on one side and go large when it comes time to race. And so it was, with William

Claiming the Lee Pullan Trophy with a win aboard his Honda RS250 in the first heat and a second place to Seamus Elliot in heat two. He was also runner up to Farquhar by just 0.8 seconds in the first Supersport race with sibling Michael in third. Then it was Michaels turn to finish runner -to Farquhar in the second race to complete a total of 11 podium finishes over the weekend for the brothers from Ballymoney.

McGuiness too, claimed a hat trick of second places, often getting the hole shot and leading races early on, only to be overhauled by the unbeatable Farquhar.

"I was really pleased with my starts this weekend and really thought I had the better of Ryan on Saturday, but he somehow did me on the brakes and there was no way back for me. I was as late as I possibly could be going into Mountside yet he still came by and he had his bike totally under control - it was 100 per cent neat and tidy so fair play to him"

"Sunday was a lot harder due to the weather and it was certainly tricky in the Gold Cup race. I enjoyed it though even though half the circuit was bone dry and half of it was wet through! I had great feeling from the Padgett's Superstock bike and that allowed me to keep Ryan honest in all three of the races and I couldn't have done anymore. To come away with three second places is very pleasing and it's been a great weekend for both me and the team so we're all going home happy."

Finally, with Farquhar hinting more and more recently at retirement, he must have been doubly pleased with the outcome of the Supertwins races. It was Farquhar himself who hoisted the Phil Mellor Trophy, but his young prot?g?, team mate and countryman Jamie Hamilton from Ballymena took a promising fourth place in heat one followed by a podium finish in the second leg aboard his Kawasaki, beaten only by his boss and Ivan Lintin on a Suzuki SV650.

Keen to retain the former British Superstock 600cc Champion for 2012, Farquhar commented;
"I was again really pleased with the efforts of Jamie this weekend and it's a pleasure to have him in the team. It wasn't the easiest weekend for a circuit newcomer but he did a great job and to get on the podium, ahead of Ian Lougher, is no mean achievement and something to be proud of"

Returning to his own achievements, Farquhar was delighted with his septet of Oliver's Mount victories.

"To have a 100% winning record this weekend is absolutely brilliant and to finally win the Gold Cup is the icing on the cake. I've been 2nd and 3rd in the past and it's been the one trophy to elude me here at Oliver's Mount but to win it at last is great and to become the first Irishman to get my name on the trophy makes it even more special.

"None of the races this weekend were easy though and John pushed me hard in all of the Superbike races. It's probably the best I've ever seen him ride round here and I really enjoyed our battles, he's such a good rider to race with."

By Graham Edwards