O’Brien, who has now ridden a winner at every Irish track except Tramore, had Tom Howley’s Kheleyf filly close to the pace throughout. And she stayed on powerfully in the closing stages to beat Like Magic by three lengths, before being claimed for €5,000 by Martin McManus.
The winning rider explained: “Gordon was confident and he got it spot-on. She travelled fine on the surface and stuck it out well.”
Pat Martin, trainer of Like Magic, enjoyed better luck either side of the claimer, recording a double with a pair of greys, Our Max and Togoville, to register his first wins on the beach since 2009.
Our Max travelled sweetly throughout the Gilna’s Cottage Inn Maiden before seeing off favourite Al Fahidi in emphatic style, prompting Martin to comment: “This place has been good to me over the years, although I haven’t had a winner here since 2009. This horse had some solid form and took to the surface well. I’m delighted for her owner Patrick McCann, who couldn’t be here today.”
McCann is also part-owner, with Paul Kelly, of Togoville, which completed Martin’s double in the concluding Hibernia Steel Amateur Race, battling hard to see off Smoker by a half length.
Martin quipped: “I’ll have to get a few more greys. He had a bit to find, but has been working well. And this place is a bit of a novelty — either they like it or they don’t.”
English trainer Richard Ford admitted: “This has been on the back-boiler for a while, once I persuaded his owner Paul Bamford,” after Colin Keane partnered 3/1 favourite Seamster to an all-the-way victory in the opening Tote Mobile Betting Handicap.
Ford added: “He was able to run off his turf rating here, which compensated for the fact that he couldn’t wear blinkers — he’s run 26 times with headgear. He’s done it grand and is a real little star.”
Christy Geoghegan, a work rider for Aidan O’Brien in Ballydoyle nowadays and rarely seen in competitive action, seized his opportunity on board MrBounty in the O’Neills Sports Handicap, providing trainer Michael O’Callaghan with a 26th birthday present, with his first runner in Laytown.
“He likes a real fast surface,” said O’Callaghan after the four-year-old’s defeat of Merry Mast which provided Geoghegan with his first win since last October.
And trainer Pat Shanahan declared: “He gave me my first winner as a trainer and is a great little horse,” after Prince Jock, ridden by Roger Quinlan, prevailed by a neck over Korbous in the Barry Matthews Auctioneers Amateur Handicap.
“He’s a bit messy in the stalls, so coming here was a help. He’s in a claimer in Clonmel next week and might go there now.”