Killarney is proving quite the money-spinning track for the Terence O’Brien-trained Lakemilan and, on the opening day of the five-day July festival at the Kerry venue, she picked up her second €50,000 handicap at the course when taking the featured Boylesports Handicap Chase.
Winner of a similarly valuable handicap hurdle at the August meeting in 2018, she was backed from a high of 4-1 to a starting price of 11-8 to add to those spoils and did so in good style.
Never far off the pace, Listowel jockey Kevin Brouder chose to bide his time making his final challenge and, just when it looked as though she might not get to long-time leader Das Mooser, she found an extra effort and got up late to win by two and a half lengths.
“Kevin said he felt he was going to win it the whole time,” said O’Brien.
“We went to Bellewstown nine days ago and that race was a qualifier for the Galway Hurdle. We were hoping she might sneak into the Hurdle, but she was well beaten on the day. She never really travelled and never got into it.
But this race was here, and she runs well around here and it was a nice prize, so we said we’d give her an entry, and see how she was after Bellewstown.
"She seemed fresh enough, so we said we’d let her take her chance. We kinda messed it up a few times with her, getting caught behind and going out in front and getting caught, but this time it was a peach of a ride.
“I’m not really sure where we’ll go next. There’s not much for her in Galway but there’s a race back here in August and she might go to that.” Liam and Johnny Burke, who were on the mark on Sunday at Sligo, were back amongst the winners after Killarney Avenue Hotel Handicap Chase, which they won with Island Master.
The 6-1 chance got up late to deny Invincible Don, who was a little inconvenienced by a loose horse on the run-in. But the real drama came at the second-last where Rock Road edged left, almost forcing Mister Butler off the track.
Paul Cawley tried to get the latter back on track, but the horse jinked at the wing of the fence and sent Cawley into and over the obstacle in the most spectacular fashion. Thankfully horse and jockey were fine, though the stewards took a dim view of the incident and gave Rock Road’s jockey, Brian Hayes, 14 days for dangerous riding.
There was less drama in the Killarney Park Hotel Handicap Chase, which went the way of the Joseph O’Brien-trained Commandant. Ridden by Hugh Morgan, he was another to make all the running for a comprehensive success.
Willie Mullins saddled the first three home in the BetVictor Novice Chase and it went to market expectation as even-money favourite Robin De Carlow, ridden by David Mullins, coasted home clear of Brahma Bull and Pont Aven.
The 2019 July festival began with a victory for Chesapeake Shores, who made all the running to win the Seamus Mulvaney Bookmakers Fillies’ Maiden for Chris Hayes and trainer Fozzy Stack.
A three-parts sister to former Irish Derby winner Frozen Fire, she looked in trouble when the challengers moved up early in the straight but, to her credit, she responded well to make the breakthrough at the third time of asking.
There was a huge upset in the second race, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Median Auction Maiden, as 4-1 chance Shared Ambition got the better of 2-9 favourite Pythion. Trained by John Murphy, who does particularly well at this venue, the gelding came here on the back of a smooth success at Down Royal and duly built on it with a performance which suggested there should be plenty more to come.
Flowering Peach was a late drifter in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies’ Handicap, but she belied her market weakness with a game success. Wayne Lordan sent Aidan O’Brien’s filly to the front from the outset and she found plenty for pressure to secure her second success of the season.