FRANKIE Dettori raised the Barney Curley Charity Cup aloft after the inaugural running of the two-race competition at Bellewstown on Wednesday.
A good crowd gathered to see the Italian star battle it out with fellow team manager Willie Mullins in an initiative aimed at raising funds for the Curley-founded charity DAFA (Direct Aid for Africa).
The first of the two races went to Mullins’ team as Fastman ran out a convincing winner under Declan McDonogh.
John McConnell’s charge was produced to lead a furlong from home in the 47-75 event but did edge left in the closing stages which led to a stewards’ enquiry.
The second and third, Dark Note and Ransom, both ran out of room but the result was unaltered.
McDonogh, riding for the Mullins team, said afterwards: “He just jinked a little bit at the road with me. They can do that here.
“I was always in control and travelled around well. He’s in good nick at the moment and was entitled to win one.”
Mullins’ team also landed the concluding race but on tallying up the points it was Dettori who emerged on top.
The Luke Comer-trained Bring Us Paradise claimed the mile-and-a-half contest having been backed from 25/1 in the morning into 9/1.
Dylan Browne McMonagle came with a strong run to lead a furlong out on the Zoffany gelding and he went on to beat Wild Shot by a length.
Assistant Jim Gorman said afterwards: “He just didn’t handle the ground the last day, it was too soft for him.
“He’s been running well and a fast pace here today suited. He loves coming off a fast pace. He’s been trying all year and it’s great to get the win.”
Shane Kelly, Tom Queally and Jamie Spencer flew over to compete in the races and their manager Dettori said: “We are trying to keep up his tradition of DAFA, the many people who help with the charity and his family.
“All the support we’ve got from everyone the last two years has been incredible. It’s a fun day out and we also had a nice golf day yesterday, a kind of Ryder Cup challenge between my team and Willie Mullins’.
“The family have created a nice cup that the winner will keep for a year. It’s the start of a new Barney Curley day.”
Willie Mullins added: “It’s great to be here today to commemorate Barney Curley and hopefully we can raise a lot of money.”
Curley’s silks were up for auction (made €2,300) and Mullins added: “They were lucky silks for me to ride in over the years. I had a great association with his bumper horses.”
Delany bags winner on the big day
EAMONN Delany, a committee member at Bellewstown, had a winner on a big day for the track when Escaping Thejungle ran out an impressive winner of the Irish EBF Auction Series Maiden.
The 3/1 shot was soon in front in the five-furlong contest and stayed on strongly in the closing stages to post a four-and-a-quarter-length win over Polar Bear.
Alan Delany, also a committee member and a busy man on the day, said afterwards: “She ran very well when third here the first day and we went for a listed race then because we thought a bit of her.
“She ran well the last day at Navan when fourth in what looked a very good race so we were hopeful coming here.
“She shows plenty of gears and Wayne was really impressed with her. It’s nice to get the win and we’ll have a little look to see where to go now.”
In the other dash over the minimum trip Harry’s Hill bagged a hat-trick for Martin Hassett in the Colm Quinn BMW Handicap.
Scott McCullagh was to the fore throughout on the Heeraat gelding and the 100/30 shot kept on well inside the final furlong to record a length-and-a-quarter win over Tai Sing Yeh.
Hassett said: “I can’t believe it, three in a row! He’s just transformed and he’s a legend. He blew a fuse one day with Seamie (Heffernan) in the stalls at Navan so we try to get him in as late as we can. Whether that has transformed or maybe he’s just taking his racing better.
“We’re doing nothing different to last year. He’s winning races now easily. We might give him another run in the Curragh, Scott said there is a big pot in him.”
Another in-form runner to strike on the card was The Bog Bank in the Seamus Murphy Memorial Handicap.
Tom McCourt’s charge was produced to lead under two furlongs out, by James Ryan, and kept on well in the closing stages to beat What Adaay by a length and a half.
It was a third success this season for the 11/2 winner and McCourt said: “She’s in a serious vein of form at the minute. I thought off 60 that she might be up against it.
“We’ll tip away through the winter with her, she takes very little work. James is serious value for his 7lb.”
Hastings makes a successful switch to the level
THE Gordon Elliott-trained Ted Hastings emerged on top after a good duel with Honeycomb in the Johnny Kierans Memorial Maiden over a mile and a half.
The pair battled it out from the two-furlong pole with the 16/1 shot gaining a narrow lead a furlong from home, under Sam Ewing, and holding his rival by a neck at the line.
Aidan Ryan’s gelding had won three, across the water, this year and Ewing said afterwards: “That was impressive. We thought he’d run well today.
“We went fairly steady and he was able to travel up there. Once we were up there he stayed on very well the whole way up the straight. Hopefully there is more to come from him on the flat.”
James McAuley landed yet another claimer when taking the opening maiden event with Sweeping Statement.
The 7/2 shot was sent for home over two furlongs out by Shane Foley and had enough left at the finish to hold James Henry by half a length.
“He’s been disappointing, his form in England was good,” said McAuley. “He works well at home but he’s probably a little bit high in the ratings to be fair.
“Shane came in last time and said to take the blinkers off him, he didn’t think he could see enough.
“I’d say he needs something but the blinkers definitely weren’t helping him.
“It was a poor race and Shane kicked at the right time. It’s an achievement to get a win with him.”