THE teak-tough Prairie Dancer put the seal on a highly industrious few months as he struck gold in the Liam Healy Memorial Lartigue Hurdle to make it four wins from his last seven starts.
Joseph O’Brien’s charge ran a huge race from the front to finish third in the Galway Hurdle last time and similar tactics worked a treat as the Sean Sweeney and Kieran O’Hare-owned four-year-old reverted to his own age group.
The 4/1 shot had to be rousted along initially by J.J. Slevin to get to the front but thereafter it was smooth sailing for the son of Territories.
He dominated this race and poured on the pressure from some way out with the result that he already looked to have the race in safe keeping by the time he turned for home.
After deftly negotiating the last two flights Prairie Dancer got to the line six and a half lengths ahead of Man O Work to give O’Brien his second win in this race, while Lunar Power secured the minor honours.
“He was lugging a bit out to the right with me and was a bit fresh too, so rather than fighting and pulling out of him, I left him do his own thing,” said the winning rider.
“He’s a hardy horse and once you can get him away and get a breather into him around half a mile from home it will take a fair horse to beat him. He has been a great horse for the yard this summer.”
It was a day to live long in the memory for Listowel-born jockey Brendan Lyons who rode his first winner on the track when Well Funded struck in the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle. A cherished Listowel winner for locally based trainer Eoin McCarthy, Well Funded was returned a well-backed 9/2 shot but had fortune on her side in a dramatic finale.
Contrapposto parted company with his rider at the second when holding the lead and when running loose he put a stop to the effort of Sequoiaspirit who looked to be coming with a strong challenge on the outer.
While this was unfolding in the middle of the track Well Funded crept through on the inner and struck the front late on to get home by a neck from the desperately unlucky Sequoiaspirit who gathered himself for another effort on the run-in.
“I’m delighted for her owner Sean Maguire who has been a huge supporter of mine over the last couple of years and it’s great for Brendan too,” commented McCarthy. “Brendan was with me before and has ridden a couple of point-to-point winners and he’s back with me now. Hopefully this will help to get him going.”
ANOTHER good day for Willie Mullins yielded a double of which the highlight was Adamantly Chosen (11/8) who made a bright start to chasing in the John F. Maguire Beginners Chase.
An unplaced favourite in the Galway Hurdle, the five-year-old son of Well Chosen took well to this new discipline as he readily accounted for the decent hurdler Grand Roi. As expected this pair dominated this extended two-mile race but Paul Townend’s mount looked to have the upper hand from the third last and the former Land Rover Bumper winner registered a convincing eight-length success. The winner carries the colours of the Watch This Space Syndicate.
“He disappointed me in the Galway Hurdle so I decided to change tack with him,” stated the trainer. “I felt he might need another half mile but his jumping technique helped him over this trip and he’ll keep going while the ground is decent. Anything from two to two and a half miles is fine for him.”
The second day of the meeting began in a similar vein to the previous afternoon as Mullins bagged the opener with Carrigmoorna Queen who justified 6/5 favouritism in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Maiden Hurdle.
The Closutton Racing-owned daughter of Walk In The Park, who won a Galway Festival bumper last time out, still looked quite raw at various stages which cost her closest rival Gaoth Chuil dearly. The latter wasn’t done with at the second last where the favourite ducked left and took her ground which gave that one no chance of staying on her feet. The departure of Gaoth Chuil left Carrigmoorna Queen in charge and she maintained a clear advantage to defeat Kilbunny Pontic by two and a half lengths.
“She’s won despite doing most things wrong,” said Paul Townend. “She was hard on herself and was left and right at a few over hurdles and at the last second she just ducked left at the second last. She will learn a lot from this.”
FORMER champion apprentice Connor King rode his first winner over jumps in Ireland as Joe Murphy’s John Cannon availed of a gilt-edged opportunity in the Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle.
This former Thurles bumper winner had run a number of solid races over hurdles since being placed on his jumping debut in November 2020 and produced a display in keeping with his position as the 10/11 favourite. The Tadhg O’Sullivan-owned seven-year-old put his rivals to the sword in fine style in the straight to win by eight lengths.
“He had good form and everything went right for him. He’s a horse with plenty of ability and it’s good for him to get his head in front again. Hopefully he can go on from this,” commented King who rode 10 jumping winners during his time in England.
After beginning his career with a pair of runner-up efforts, My Gaffer produced a nice display under Harry Swan to get off the mark in the Eric Browne Memorial Flat Race.
The Walter O’Connor-owned gelding wasn’t facing anything of the calibre of Marine Nationale who he chased home at Killarney last month and he duly took advantage.
The front-running 7/2 shot had to contend with the efforts of But What and Volantis turning for home but shrugged them aside to carry the day by just under three lengths. A winners’ bumper at Tipperary next month could be on the agenda for the four-year-old.
Liam McKenna registered his first winner since that memorable Galway Hurdle triumph aboard Tudor City as the Colm Murphy-trained Ella Perfecta claimed the Kevin’s Bar Listowel/Exchange Inn Ballybunion Handicap Hurdle.
The 100/30 shot was dropping down in grade after contesting a listed event at Galway and produced a nice effort to defy a mark of 114 on her handicap debut.
The Murphys Law Syndicate-owned mare made her bid at the second last and picked up best in the closing stages to prevail by a length and a half.