Highest-rated of the four runners, Bertie Le Belge made a successful seasonal debut when seeing off Cradle Mountain and favourite Postulation in the Irish Stallion Farms Race while Sacrificial, in the colours of Qatar Racing, defied top-weight in the Bet Online At thetote.com Handicap.
Bertie Le Belge, a second winner on the evening for Anamoine Limited (successful with Jessica Harrington’s 20/1 newcomer Buyer Beware under Fran Berry in the opening maiden), came from last to first for an emphatic length and three-quarter win, prompting Lyons to explain: “Colin said he got there lovely, but idled in front. He won like a nice horse and, with no firm plans, we’ll make it up as we go along.
“He should stay further, although the fact that he won over six last year had us confused.”
Gelded over the winter, Sacrificial completed the Lyons/Keane double in determined style. Lyons said: “He’s not the finished article yet, but he definitely turned a corner since we gelded him. He’s rated 87 and is big and strong, so I didn’t think top-weight would stop him against those horses.
“Hopefully, he’ll keep improving as he steps into better company. He might be a premier handicap horse later in the year.”
Keane completed a great evening when Jackie Ellis captured the Ross Golf Course membership Handicap, bringing up the 174/1 treble and prompting trainer Flynn to admit: “We must have been riding her wrong last year – she enjoyed being held up tonight.”
Supported at big prices in the morning and sent off at 8/1, Rooca Rojo bolted up in the fillies maiden, stretching clear in the final furlong to beat Love Rosie by seven and a half lengths.
The Strategic Prince filly, transferred to Ado McGuiness when her former trainer Joann Morgan retired, undoubtedly looked smart and her trainer explained: “I only have her since the end of February and Joanna said she was too raw and immature to run last year. But she has worked very well from the start and beat ‘Bubbly’ (Bubbly Bellini) in a piece of work in Leopardstown.
“She wears the hood because she’s a little hot. She was green today but did it easily. We have no definite plans, although we’ll probably chase a bit of black type at some stage.”
The Dermot Weld-trained Good Tradition (Pat Smullen) sent favourite-backers home happy when romping to an impressive six lengths win over Neverushacon in the finale the www.killarneyraces.ie Race.
“Pat was happy he got the distance so well,” explained Kris Weld. “We had a concern because of his pedigree and the fact that he has been off for over a year. He likes nice ground and will probably go for something similar. We’ll take small steps with him for the moment.”