Ard Na Greine strides into Derby shake-up

ARD Na Greine landed the listed Martin Molony Stakes for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning at Limerick last night and will now contest next Sunday’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.

Sent to the front, past pace-forcing Aliyfa turning for home, the Galileo colt stayed on stoutly to beat Dance Pass by a length, prompting Bolger’s representative Ger Flynn to comment: “He’s a tough little horse and is going the right way. Kevin said that he loved the ground.”

And, after speaking to his boss by phone, Flynn added: “He’s entered in the Derby next week and will run.”

Ard Na Greine, which might well be used as a pacemaker for stable-companion Gan Amhras, was the second leg of a double for Manning, initiated when Refuse To Sell, owned and trained locally by Flan Costello, won the Grant Thornton Handicap narrowly in a blanket-finish.

“He’s a grand horse, not very big, but tough,” stated Costello. “After every run, I let him out in the field for three or four days to freshen him up. I’m not sure where he’ll run next, but it would be nice to go to Galway with him.”

Also in double for was Chris Hayes, successful for his boss Lady O’Reilly on Samba School and Saponara.

The former champion apprentice produced the previously disappointing Samba School with a perfectly-timed challenge between horses to beat Mean Lae and Middle Persia in the fillies maiden.

James Kelly, representing the winning owner, stated: “She’s been unlucky and deserved that. She’ll run in the seven furlong fillies handicap at the Curragh next week if she gets into it.”

Saponara received a strong drive from Hayes to get the better of front-running Pride Celebre after a protracted battle in the Croom House Stud Fillies Handicap, giving trainer David Myerscough his first winner for Lady O’Reilly.

Charlie Swan is considering a crack at the valuable GPT Amateur Handicap at Galway for Zaralabad following his smooth success, under an ultra-confident Nina Carberry, in the Peter Clohessy’s Bar & Sin Bin Night Club Race.

Swan commented: “He loves that fast ground and Nina gave him a great ride. He’ll go for the ‘GPT’ at Galway and could run in another amateur race, at Bellewstown, before then.”

Tommy Stack enjoyed a welcome change of luck when Shabassh, ridden by Wayne Lordan, kept Ballydoyle colt Reggae Dancer at bay to win the two-year-old maiden.

“We’ve had a quiet time of late,” admitted Stack’s son and assistant Fozzy, “Wayne said he was minding himself in front and on that fast ground. He’s a nursery type and could head for Galway.”

Once a fancy for the Investec Oaks, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Roman Empress, by Sadler’s Wells, coped well enough with the fast conditions to beat Leblon in the Irish Stallion Farms Fillies Maiden, Shaun Levey’s mount prevailing by a neck.

Pat Flynn was back in the winner’s enclosure after Final Flashback made all to land the Derrinstown Stud Apprentice Handicap.

The Moyglare-bred gelding was a first winner for Clonmel-born Maria Quinlan (19), who has worked for Flynn for the last three years.

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