Three wins from four visits to Ireland for Max

Sir Maximilian made it three wins from four visits to Ireland in 2014 when getting up close home to defeat Abstraction by a head in the listed Mercury Stakes, last night’s feature in Dundalk.

Previously successful at the Curragh and Tipperary and having his first run since returning to the yard of Ian Williams (who bought him at the Sales for £20,000 two years ago), the five-year-old gave Steve Donohoe and Williams big-race success on their first visit to Dundalk.

Donohoe admitted: “He did well to win – the bend comes up a bit quick and we got squeezed and lost momentum,” while Williams conceded: “All the plaudits go to Tim Pitt who trained the horse until a week ago and did a great job with him. But it’s great to have him back.

“Stevie did a great job on him and didn’t panic when he was checked. The horse will have a break and will, head to Dubai in the New Year.”

Trainer Tracey Collins suggested: “I’d love to get a listed race for him here in the middle of the summer,” after consistent grey Captain Joy defied top-weight, under a perfectly-executed ride from Pat Smullen in the €20,000 Book Your Christmas Party At Dundalk Handicap.

Soon prominent, Captain Joy edged ahead on the inside before the straight and kept going well to triumph by a length, with a blanket-finish for the minor placings. His trainer added: “He has run consistently on the grass. But he travels exceptionally well here, on the surface and under the lights. I can’t see anything else for him, so he’ll have his winter break.”

Matthew Smith saddled first and third in the Crowne Plaza Race & Stay Handicap as Connor King got Gretzky up to pip Hardtsone by a short-head with Shalaman a half-length away third in a blanket-finish, a performance which prompted Smith to comment: “When he got off the truck, he knew he was here – he’s just a different horse here.”

The well-bred, Aidan O’Brien-trained filly Adeste Fideles opened her account, at the seventh attempt, in the opening six-furlong maiden, making all to score convincingly by almost five lengths from Taaluf, prompting her rider Seamus Heffernan to declare: “She’s been running over longer trips and we’ve been riding her wrong. She likes to jump and do her own thing — and that’s what she did tonight. It was probably a weak race and she looked a steering-job – somebody had to steer her!”

Adrian Keatley is planning a trip to Nottingham, for another nursery, on Wednesday week for with Anonymous Lady, which got the better of Enter The Priory and Miss Temple in the five-furlong nursery, prompting her trainer to declare: “It’s grand to get the job done with a filly that cost only 900 quid.”

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