Smullen made every yard of the running on 73-rated Dreams Forever in the Bar One Racing Median Auction Maiden to beat Curling Bird by a length and three-quarters and described the race as “a good opportunity” for the son of Bachelor Duke.
The champion-jockey was seen at his tactical best on Designated Decoy in the finale, the Morgan Fuels/Morgans Dairies Race over a distance just short of a mile and three furlongs.
Dictating the pace on the four-year-old Danzig gelding, Smullen quickened the tempo on the approach to the straight and poached a crucial advantage.
But, in the last furlong and a half, Smullen had to get serious with his mount, which had finished third to Pollen in the Irish Lincoln last Sunday and was meeting some of last night’s rivals on unfavourable terms.
Long-absent eleven-year-old Emmpat emerged as the main threat at the furlong-pole. But Designated Decoy kept responding to Smullen’s strong handling and held on by a neck.
Trainer Eddie Lynam, who got off the mark for 2009 when Mourinho scored here last week, saddled Solid Air to win the opening Neil Clarke Oils Maiden, building on an eye-catching handicap run a week ago.
Ridden by Declan McDonogh, the grey Linamix colt, carrying the colours of the trainer’s wife Aileen, ran out a convincing three lengths winner from Royal Entourage, prompting Lynam to comment: “He had a hip problem last year but, on that performance, might be OK. We’ll see what the handicapper does with him. He might come back here for a little handicap.”
David Marnane recorded his first win of the new season when 14/1 shot Lime Tree Valley proved best, under Colm O’Donoghue, in the one-mile Rogers Construction Handicap.
The Val Royal gelding, formerly trained by Kevin Prendergast, will embark on a new career in the coming months, as Marnane explained: “He’s a nice horse and won well. We’ll try to win another of these with him. But I’ve always considered him a likely sort as a hurdler and he’ll go jumping in May.”
The colours of owner-breeder Ashley O’Leary (a sister of Ryanair boss Michael and Eddie) were carried to victory for the first time by Tellelle, ridden by Michael Hussey, in the Dev Oil & Skips R Us Handicap.
Dropping back in trip after a run here last week, the daughter of Trans Island is trained by Liam McAteer, who intends campaigning her in similar company.
One of the most promising apprentices in the country Gary Carroll was seen to good effect on the Jim McCabe-trained Hazelwood Ridge in the Farmlea Handicap, the 10/1 shot holding the late challenge of top-weight Beatrix Potter by three quarters of a length.
Gina Morgan, who rode the runner-up for Frank Ennis, also had to settle for the runner-up berth on the flattering Salazaar in the Hanratty Oils Handicap, looking all over a winner inside the final furlong before being outstayed by Risk Taker, a rare flat winner for Niall ‘Slippers’ Madden.
Risk Taker is trained by Ivan Keeling, uncle of winning jockey Madden, who was riding his first winner at Dundalk.
Andrew Thornton and apprentice Julie Burke picked up suspensions. Thornton was banned for one day for careless riding on The Tooth Fairy in the six-furlong handicap while Burke was stood down for two days following an incident soon after the start of the seven-furlong maiden, when found guilty of crossing before the marker-poles.
Character Building, a leading contender for the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree this day week, has been ruled out of the race after suffering a setback.
John Quinn’s nine-year-old set himself up for a tilt at the world’s most famous steeplechase by winning the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival earlier in the month but lameness in a foot means he will not be lining up. Quinn is now hoping to target his stable star at either the Irish or Scottish Grand National.