Ridden by star apprentice Ben Curtis, Barack, owned and bred by John Malone, snatched victory, on the nod, by a short-head from the Declan McDonogh-ridden Duff, with favourite Wild Wind a half-length away third and Ask Jack finishing best of all another short-head away.
Ennis enthused: “Tonight was the plan. He’s only a pony, but he’s a game little fellow. He’s rated 103 and is better off running in these listed and Group 3 races to pick up a few quid, rather than running in handicaps. He’s a hardy boy. And we’ll keep him on the go. The Curragh next weekend is probably a bit soon for him. But we’ll keep him busy.”
John Oxx saddled his first two-year-old winner of the season (with only his second runner) when the Invincible Spirit filly Rubina turned over Aidan O’Brien’s 2/9 shot Foot Soldier in the opening Irish Stallion Farms Maiden, the first leg of a double for the Currabeg trainer.
Rubina overcame a slow start and her inexperience to sweep past the favourite at the furlong-pole and kept going well to score by a length and three-quarters.
Oxx commented: “She’s a filly with plenty of speed and, in the circumstances, did well to win. She’ll go for a listed race next, possible at the Curragh next Friday, if it doesn’t come too soon for her. And she should stay seven furlongs in due course.”
The Oxx double was completed when Creekview defied a mark of 100 and top-weight in the four-runner Growise Handicap over a mile.
The Sheikh Mohammed-owned Dubai Destination gelding needed plenty of urging from Johnny Murtagh and wandered left and right before seeing off odds-on favourite Estithmaar by two and a half lengths and surviving a Stewards Enquiry.
The Oxx team was denied a treble when seasonal debutante Narjawa had to settle for the runner-up berth again, beaten two lengths by One Spirit in the fillies maiden.
One Spirit, a home-bred filly owned by Ann Marshall and trained by Frank Dunne, was building on a promising debut run at Navan and won cosily, giving Niall McCullagh his third success in 24 hours following a double at Navan on Wednesday.
The Harry Rogers-trained mare Strandfield Lady is a real course specialist at Leopardstown and registered her fifth win on the Dublin track when emerging best in a four-way tussle for the Bulmers Live Handicap.
Having come from last to first under in-form apprentice Same James, the six-year-old mare got the better of gallant favourite Casbah Rock by a half length.
The placings were unchanged after a Stewards Enquiry. But James picked up a two-day ban for careless riding.
Narrowly denied in the listed event, Eddie Lynam enjoyed better luck when Spin Of A Coin, ridden by Declan McDonogh, landed the Undertones Handicap in good style, beating Lily’s Star and favourite Ted Dolly.
Lynam quipped: “We got there in the end. He’s in a few races next week and will probably run again under a mandatory penalty.”
Trainer Thomond O’Mara has Galway in mind for Tornedo Shay, which recorded the first of three bumper wins on this track and ran out a convincing winner of the concluding amateur riders’ maiden.
A first winner on the track for Clonmel-born rider Johnny Ryan, Tornedo Shay proved too strong for Silver Canyon and Johnny McGeeney. And O’Mara admitted: “This has been the plan for a while. And the next step is Galway. He’s won around there before and will go for either the amateur handicap or the Galway Hurdle.”