THE former Group 1-winning juvenile Gear Up could have put himself in line for a trip to Australia later this year as he won his second race since joining Joseph O’Brien in the Group 3 Grant Thornton Ballyroan Stakes.

The Teme Valley-owned four-year-old turned in a decent effort to fill the runner-up spot in the Curragh Cup in late June but did better here as he bested his stablemate Cleveland whose debut outing for O’Brien looks to have booked a Melbourne Cup slot. Gear Up, who lined up as the second highest rated runner in the field, was always nicely placed in second for Dylan Browne McMonagle and he took over in front from Sandhurst with just under two furlongs to run.

Cleveland had still to deliver his effort at this point and he arrived with a strong charge inside the distance but could find no way past in the closing stages as Gear Up carried the day by a neck. The 6/4 favourite, Beamish, was three and a half lengths back in third.

“He’s been improving with each run all year and I’d say that’s as good as he’s been all year,” stated O’Brien. “He ran well the last day but I think a mile and a half is probably his optimum distance.

“He could be back here for the Kilternan Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend but he’s in the Caulfield Cup. I’m not sure if he can do both. I think the quarantine may start before the Kilternan, so it might be one or the other.

“I thought Cleveland ran well. He had to be group placed to qualify for the Melbourne Cup.”

Second success

Gear Up’s breeder Jim Bolger also got amongst the winners as Dancila (11/1) recorded his second success of the season in the Hurling For Cancer August 16 Handicap over 10 furlongs.

This Jackie Bolger-owned five-year-old, who spent a year and a half off the track after his debut in August 2020, was bouncing back from a couple of unplaced efforts at the Curragh and Galway and displayed a fine attitude to do so. He responded well to Kevin Manning’s promptings to lead over a furlong out and dug in splendidly to first fend off the favourite Entropy before reaching the line half a length ahead of Safecracker. The winner could try his hand at premier handicap level next time.

Apprentice Amy Jo Hayes was once again seen to good effect as she teamed up with Sunset Nova (12/1) to take the 47-70 rated Manguard Plus Handicap over seven furlongs.

Now a winner of eight of his 71 career starts, the Men Of Forty Eight Syndicate-owned gelding came with a strong charge to lead at the furlong pole en route to a two-and-a-quarter-length victory over Royal Tribute. Andy Slattery’s charge has amassed earnings approaching €100,000.

Bingo for Bronson

THERE was a nice three-year-old on show in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden over nine furlongs where Bingo Bronson made a winning debut for Ger Lyons.

This son of Gleneagles, who is owned by David Spratt, the trainer’s wife Lynne and Sean Jones, was returned a well backed 11/4 favourite and won nicely. He was travelling best of all by some distance early in the straight and moved to the front well over a furlong out en route to a smooth four-length triumph over Westernesse.

“He’s a nice horse. I came back after my holiday last winter and there were about 12 or 15 of that type in the yard and I went, ‘Jaysus who bought all the jump horses,” quipped Lyons. “It’s lovely ground out there and he loved it. He wants 10 furlongs minimum but I’d say you won’t see the best of him until next year, if we still have him.”

After struggling to land a blow at Galway last week Cedar Rapids ran out a well-supported winner of the seven-furlong claimer after which he left the care of Denis Hogan for the second time this season.

The Raymond Treacy-owned gelding was backed from 9/1 into 13/2 to return to the form that saw him reach the frame in a Killarney claimer last month. Joey Sheridan produced him to lead inside the last furlong and they reached the line three-parts of a length ahead of the favourite, Mischief Star.

James McAuley claimed the winner for €15,000 having had him for one run earlier this year, Andrew McNamara paid the same price for the third-placed Plankton while Denis Hogan will take charge of Cactus Tree who cost €10,000.

Belief bags first win in three years

THE useful jumper Rich Belief bridged a gap of over three years in the finale as his success in the Awards And Gifts Handicap over just short of two miles was his first on the flat since July 2019.

A second to Waterville at Limerick in June and a decent fourth at Galway last week saw Karl Thornton’s charge go off the 7/4 joint favourite under Billy Lee who sent Rich Belief to the front shortly after turning in. The winner soon held a good lead which he maintained to defeat Arabian King by a length and a quarter.

This was Rich Belief’s fourth win since joining Thornton and he will bid to add to his haul back over hurdles at Perth next weekend.

Matthew Smith’s resurgence continued as he sent out Mads Black Eights to spring a 22/1 surprise in the first divide of the 47-70 rated nine-furlong handicap.

This lightly raced six-year-old had shown promise on a few occasions in the past and might well be one to follow for the remainder of the season. She came from off the pace for Declan McDonogh to strike the front inside the last furlong and then kept on well to finish a length and three-parts ahead of Philly’s Hope. The winner carries the colours of Alan Morrell.

“Alan and his wife Sheila have been very patient with her and I’m delighted for them,” stated Smith. “She has plenty of ability and Declan gave her a great ride. She’s genuine, tough, and showed a nice turn of foot there so we’ll look for something similar.”

Last gasp

The other division of this handicap yielded a last-gasp success for owner-trainer-breeder Luke Comer as Nathan Crosse and Focus Required (11/1) carried the day. The front-running Out On Friday held a commanding lead turning for home but was treading water from over a furlong out, whereas the slow-starting Focus Required was finishing with a wet sail having been well back turning in. Out On Friday was clinging on as the line loomed but in the last few strides was overhauled by Focus Required who was notching up his second course success of the season.