Raised 22lb. by the handicapper for an easy winner at Tramore on Saturday and running under only a mandatory 5lb. penalty, the Willie Mullins-trained Clondaw Warrior was sent off a red-hot 2/9 favourite and, under Pat Smullen, travelled strongly, if a little freely, throughout and looked the likely winner in the straight until headed and outbattled by Charlie Swan’s mare, which won her maiden on this track back in September 2012.
A delighted Swan quipped: “Fran must be nearly as old as me — he won a maiden on this filly here two years ago and also rode her mother High Reef — he won twice on her.
“Fast ground is what this filly needs. She ran well in Galway, but the ground was too soft in Cork the last day. I’ll try to find another one of these handicaps for her, or she could go for a mares maiden hurdle. But it will all depend on the ground.”
Odds-on favourite Belle Et Bete gave trainer Ger Lyons a 49th birthday winner when following-up her maiden success at Down Royal with an emphatic success in the opening Roscommon 2-Y-0 Auction Race.
A 41st winner of the season for Colin Keane (currently fifth in the Jockeys Championship table), the daughter of Big Bad Bob beat debutant Spiritual Man readily by a length and quarter, prompting Shane Lyons to comment: “This was an opportunity we couldn’t miss with her. She’s a nice, genuine filly and did her job well. Colin said she idled in front, but that he had plenty up his sleeve. I don’t think you’ll see much more of her this year, but she should fill out over the winter and make a nice filly next year.”
In-form apprentice Leigh Roche had partnered both Kanes Pass and Have A Nice Day to all-the-way wins over course and distance this summer. The Tuam man chose correctly in the seven-furlong feature event, the Follow Roscommon On Facebook Handicap, bringing the Willie McCreery-trained Kanes Pass with a steady challenge to collar Sabrina Harty’s charge in the last hundred yards for a half-length success.
“I was raging when I saw the draw (Kanes Pass was drawn thirteen),” admitted McCreery. “But they went hard in front and Leigh knows this filly well and gave her a confident ride. She’s been a great servant and this is her fifth win for us.”
McCreery completed a 203/1 double when Love The Feeling, in the colours of his wife Amanda, made a successful jumping debut in the Abbey Hotel Roscommon 3-Y-0 Maiden Hurdle, Mark Walsh’s mount proving four and a half lengths too strong for Cabarete.
Narrowly denied with Have A Nice Day, Sabrina Harty enjoyed better luck in the following Pyramid Bookmakers Fillies Handicap when the Pat Smullen-ridden Empress Toorah followed-up her recent maiden win at Wexford, prevailing by a nose over Willowing.
The concluding, four-runner Athleague Hurdle, the highlight of the jumps action, went to Gordon Elliott’s Clara Mc Cloud, the only mare on the race, which came from last to first under Davy Condon to beat Waaheb convincingly by a length and three-quarters before surviving a Stewards Enquiry.
“She goes on all ground, bar very heavy, and has been consistent,” said the winning trainer. “She’s tough and very honest and she’ll go chasing soon.”