Yet another night for students had the place rocking, with an extraordinary 8,800 in attendance. It cost just €5 for everyone to get in and this, following on Cork last week, was a terrific success story.
Veteran trainer, Kevin Prendergast, clearly hasn’t lost his touch, landing a treble with Obligada, Asheerah and Captainofthefleet, taking his total for the season to five.
David Wachman’s Shelley Beach was all the rage through the morning - as high as 3-1 - and on track as well, and went off the 5-4 favourite, in the Students’ Of Limerick Race.
Wayne Lordan soon had her striding along in front and they were tactics which looked destined to succeed for much of the trip.
But Obligada, far from neglected in the ring — 6-1 from 8’s — was soon challenging and proved much the stronger for Sam James, quickening clear inside the furlong pole.
Declan McDonogh had the ride on Asheerah, in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Fillies Maiden, and was certainly seen to good effect.
John Oxx’s Dance Secretary went off a heavily-backed favourite and was taken to the front over five furlongs out by Johnny Murtagh.
She kept going well all the way up the straight, but just couldn’t hold the winner, who got there close home to score by a short head.
The Prendergast treble was completed when Captainofthefleet scrambled to victory in the Limerick Run Maiden.
Long odds-on and ridden by McDonogh, the son of Refuse To Bend was all out to hold the late rush of Hired Hand by a fast diminishing head.
Captainofthefleet did weave about a bit through the final furlong and a stewards’ inquiry was called. As was anticipated the placings remained unaltered.
The Murtagh and McDonogh roles were reversed in the Spin Southwest Student Raceday Maiden, with Murtagh beating his rival by a head.
Murtagh was on Oxx’s Swampfire, 9-4 to 6-4, and they got the best of a desperate last furlong tussle with McDonogh on Prendergast’s Estithmaar.
Swampfire was quickly blazing along, but looked in big trouble when Estithmaar edged ahead with less than a furlong to run.
But the winner, sporting blinkers for the first time, dug deep and was clearly on top near the line.
Oxx was represented by his assistant, Slim O’Neill, who said: “He goes on the ground and we thought would be hard to beat.
“The trip was probably on the short side and he might stay a mile and a half. His future is in handicaps.”
After Pat Smullen had lifted Reach The Stars home in the It’s A Student’s Life Handicap, the filly’s trainer, Dermot Weld, said: “That’s why he’s champion jockey.”
Smullen made his move downhill to the home turn and, somehow, kept her in front right to the line, after it looked certain she would be swamped by Concrete and Clay. Weld nominated the Tipperary Cup at Clonmel as the next stop for the daughter of Galileo.
The talented Ben Curtis was seen to advantage aboard John Nicholson’s Mrs Batt in the €5 After Five Handicap.
She made all of the running, holding on for hard driving to beat the persistent Legendary Times by a neck.
Mrs Batt did edge off the rails inside the furlong pole, towards the second, and a stewards’ inquiry was called. There was never, however, any possibility of an alteration to the placings.
David Marnane struck for the first time this season when Colm O’Donoghue powered Maal to a half a length defeat of Cave Artist in the Online Special Packages Handicap.
“He has been a superstar for us and I’m delighted to have him”, said Marnane. “We haven’t had many runners so far, but things should start to pick up now.”