On a day when fast ground was responsible for the majority of the 36 withdrawals, the versatile Joe Crowley trained five year-old came from last to first to wear down from running Sweet Firebird in the last 100 yards and triumph by three quarters of a length with gambled-on favourite Good Surprise (9/4 - 6/4) a close third.
Trainer Crowley was not present to outline plans for Blue Corrig, a previous winner of the listed Challenge Stakes at Leopardstown as a three year old but better known in recent outings for his exploits over hurdles. But winning rider Seamus Heffernan commented: “he found plenty for a horse that pulled so hard. It’s just a pity that his owner wasn’t here to see it.”
Good Surprise’s connections, trainer Jim Bolger, stable jockey Kevin Manning and Swiss owner Claudia Jungo-Corpataux had enjoyed better luck in the opening fillies maiden when Mademoiselle Sissi made virtually all the running to record a convincing five lengths victory over Sharatila.
The winner, a daughter of Sadler’s Well’s, cost 400,000 as a yearling and is one of four horses trained by Bolger for her owner. Bolger’s travelling head man Ger Flynn suggested that the filly would step into listed company next time and that she should develop into a smart staying filly next season.
Trainer David Wachman, who will run Luas Line in the Garden City Breeders Cup (grade 1) at Belmont Park on Saturday, was responsible for the other two year-old winner on the card, Shutruk-Nahhunte, which followed up a win at the Festival when landing the odds in the Tote Ireland Auction race.
Soon in front, the Danehill Dancer gelding was always in command and came home a smooth three lengths winner, giving jockey Wayne Lordan the 31st success of his best ever season. “Good ground is the key to this fellow,” said Wachman. “He keeps improving and will be a nice horse next year.”
Recently returned from injury, apprentice Rory Cleary registered his 25th success of the season when Stef’s Girl dictated the pace before winning the Trappers Inn handicap from Manor Law. This filly has performed consistently in recent weeks and was giving Curragh trainer Michael Halford his 44th win of the season.
Charlie Swan took the training honours, recording a mixed double with Da Bookie and One More Minute.
In the colours of Sean Dalton, Da Bookie was produced with a strong late challenge by Tadhg O’Shea to collar top weight Shaykhan close home in the Electronic Retail Security handicap. Swan explained, “the horse deserved a win and so did Sean. We ran him in two bumpers and he got well beaten but we have found the key to him. He has always plenty of pace but he’s a hard ride and must be produced late. He jumps very well and we’ll think about going hurdling, although he’ll need an easy two miles.”
Swan’s double was completed when One More Minute captured the Galway City Vintners novice chase, leading from pillar to post under Ruby Walsh, recovered from his fall on Sunday and deputising for the injured Barry Geraghty.
One More Minute made all and appeared to have the edge over uneasy favourite Gortinard when that rival blundered at the second last fence. Swan will now consider giving his charge a break and is already considering training him for the Galway Plate.
Dungarvan trainer John Kiely doubts if he has ever trained a horse to complete a hat-trick on the flat, the achievement of Fayr Star, a narrow winner of the Tom Hogan Lexus Handicap.
A winner twice at Tramore, Fayr Star was driven clear by Michael Hussey approaching the straight but had to fight hard to hold off the challenge of Fitzroy by a neck, prompting Kiely to explain, “Tramore didn’t take too much out of him but I gave him a break with this race in mind. He’ll go hurdling but needs fast ground and you won’t see him during the winter.”
Keith Hadnett, who enjoyed his biggest ever success on Rockholm Boy in the 2002 Galway Plate, was on the mark in the concluding maiden hurdle when making all on the Tom Hogan trained favourite Kylebeg Dancer.