Progressive Saajidah follows-up in great style

SAAJIDAH’S convincing victory in the featured fillies handicap proved the highlight of a sparkling treble for Declan McDonogh at rain-sodden Roscommon last evening.

In ground which changed from ‘yielding’ to ‘soft to heavy’ during the day, McDonagh triumphed on Foxillian and Dibella in addition to the Hamdan Al Maktoum owned filly which followed-up her maiden win in Killarney in great style.

Never far off the pace, Saajidah stayed on dourly through the last two furlongs to beat Articilitis by three and a half lengths in the ten-furlong Irish Stallion Farms Fillies Handicap.

Winning trainer Kevin Prendergast commented: “She stays well and didn’t mind the ground. She won well and is entitled to step into stronger company. A race like the October Handicap in Naas would probably suit her. But we’ll see what the handicapper does first.”

McDonogh had initiated his treble when giving Foxillian a patient ride to follow-up her recent Bellewstown success in the Castlerea Handicap, taking command at the furlong-pole to beat Kammaan by a length and a quarter.

Another winner for trainer Ken Condon, McDonogh’s mount was defying a 9lb. rise for her recent win and delighted her trainer, who said: “She had run well on slow ground in the past, so I wasn’t too concerned when the ground turned soft. That was a tough seven furlongs out there and she won over a mile the last day, so I knew she’d keep going.

“I was worried when the handicapper put her up 9lb. for Bellewstown. But she seems to be improving and Declan was very good on her. She’s a great fun horse for her owners.”

The familiar colours of the Aga Khan were carried by three of the runners in the mile-and-a-half fillies handicap, two of them trained by John Oxx.

But it was the Michael Halford trained Dibella which proved a shock winner, providing McDonogh with the third leg of his treble and prompting her trainer to explain: “She ran okay the last day but she’s still green and we thought the cheekpieces would help her. I suppose the key today was that she went on the ground and stayed going better than the others. She’ll go handicapping now.”

Jessica Harrington whose star juvenile Pathfork was supplemented yesterday for Saturday’s Group 1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh, enjoyed a two-year-old success at a much lower level when Bible Belt, unlucky when an eye-catching fourth on her debut over course and distance, proved a facile winner of the opening median auction fillies maiden.

The Big Bad Bob filly, a full-sister to stable-companion Bob Le Beau swept past market-rival Emerald Ring with more than a furlong to race and drew clear under Fran Berry to score by five and a half lengths.

Her trainer said: “I was very worried about the ground and very nearly took her out this morning. Fran said she struggled a bit in it down the back. But she came home well, when her stamina kicked in. She might have one more run, over a mile, before we put her away for the winter, maybe a listed race, if there is one.”

The jumps action produced a major shock when 20/1 shot Drain Hopper, trained in Doneraile, County Cork by Pat Cronin and enterprisingly ridden by Pierce Gallagher, made all to slam Ella Watson by eight lengths in the Four Roads Mares Pro-Am Maiden Hurdle.

Colin Kidd saddled Raheenwood, ridden by amateur Mikey Fogarty, to win the Ballyleague Pro-Am Handicap Hurdle, beating the flattering Prosperity Square by a half-length.

“He’s only five and is still improving,” said Kidd, who trains the gelding for his mother. “To win three races with him in a summer is good going and, if he’s okay, we’ll probably bring him to Listowel. There are a couple of handicaps there for him before he goes on his holidays.”

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