Music Pearl hits right note with first time blinkers

IN-FORM Ger Lyons dominated last night’s flat action in Wexford, completing a superb treble with Music Pearl, Solent Ridge and Sixty Eight Guns, the first and last leg providing former champion Johnny Murtagh with a double.

Blinkered for the first time, Music Pearl overcame a tardy start before wearing down odds-on favourite Hadrian’s Waltz inside the final furlong to land the opening fillies maiden, prompting Shane Lyons, assistant to his trainer brother, to comment: “She’s a genuine little filly and, like most of ours, improved from her first run, at Naas. The blinkers helped her.”

After the Danny Benson-ridden Solent Ridge came through late to thwart Snap Alam in the Campile Apprentice Handicap and provide the Lyons team with its second success of the evening, Lyons explained: “I was a bit worried about the trip and this horse doesn’t like getting a slap. Danny gave him a smashing, intelligent ride and didn’t panic. He’s been working well and did it on the track tonight.”

Lyons was full of praise for Murtagh after seasonal debutant Sixty Eight Guns finished strongly to collar Dearest in the Black Point Handicap. “He missed the kick and Johnny did the right thing. He was very patient and delayed his challenge as late as he could. It’s unusual for one of ours to win first time up, so it’s onwards and upwards with this fellow.”

Johnny Murtagh was denied further success on his only ride for his boss John Oxx when odds-on favourite Alayir (6/4 to 10/11) failed to get to grips with all-the-way winner Quaintly in the Barrow Race.

Favourite-backers were denied when the Gordon Elliott trained Sounds Of Thunder, with Declan McDonogh deputising for Emmet McNamara (concussed after an earlier fall), was mugged close home by the Eoin Doyle-trained Grand Cru (Billy Lee) in the second division of the Owenduff Handicap, the first division having gone to Paul Magnier’s Golan Go, ridden by Gary Carroll.

In the bumper action, Annie Other, ridden by vRoger Quinlan got up close home to beat Glibin in the mares event, providing trainer PaT Doyle with a welcome change of luck while favourite Sallyanka, trained by Eoin Griffin and strongly ridden by Sallyanka, got the better of front-running Clouded Thoughts (Kate Harrington) in a driving finish to the Owenavarragh Flat Race.

Meanwhile, Leblon struggled throughout before justifying 4/5 favouritism in the featured Elvis Tribute Show Mares Hurdle at Downpatrick.

After sloppy jumping at the first few flights, Sean McDermott was hard at work on John O’Shea’s mare soon after half-way. But, despite running in snatches, Leblon kept responding, eventually edging ahead on the run-in before holding Brave Beauty by a half-length.

Trainer O’Shea said: “She didn’t handle the track, but her class got her through. She’ll mix it, flat and hurdles, for the summer and will probably step-up in trip. She’s tough and stays well.”

Paul Carberry deputised successfully for Bryan Cooper (shaken after a fall in Tipperary on Thursday) on the Robbie Hennessy-trained Magnetic Force in the Bar One Racing Handicap Hurdle and looked set to complete a double on in the Heart Of Down Maiden Hurdle when his mount Eirland, a narrow leader, blundered and unseated him at the final flight, leaving his Davy Russell-ridden market rival Resolute Bay to record a bloodless win for trainer Philip Fenton.

Mark O’Hare produced the Clare McMahon trained Jamsie Hall to head Norwich Flyer at the last before powering clear up the hill for an emphatic win in the Frankie Fitzsimons Maiden Hunters Chase.

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