Variable off mark in style

Seven-times champion Pat Smullen celebrated his 38th birthday with a first and last race double in Cork last night, highlighted by the impressive victory of Variable in the concluding fillies maiden.

A beaten odds-on favourite on her debut in Gowran and sent off at 8/11 here, Variable, trained by Dermot Weld for Prince Khalid Abdullah, cruised past 93-rated market rival Athassel Abbey before sprinting clear in great style to slam Sense Of Victory by six and a half lengths.

Variable, a daughter of Sea The Stars, will now step into stakes company, as Kris Weld, representing his father, explained: “She was green first time out in Gowran but has come forward well. She won nicely tonight, although still a bit green and immature, and will improve again.

“She’s a lovely filly, by Sea The Stars out of a Prix Marcel Boussac winner, and I’m sure she’ll go on the black type trail now. Dad will have to discuss plans with Lord Grimthorpe.”

Disappointing when well-backed for her debut at Navan last Sunday, Promised Money initiated Smullen’s double when getting the better of Jealous Beauty in the opening Irish Stallion Farms 2-Y-0 Fillies Maiden, a first winner of the turf season for Eddie Lynam.

Having tracked the leaders, Pat Smullen produced the Dark Angel filly (whose dam Hartstown House won for Lynam in Tipperary back in 1996) to challenge at the furlong-pole, eventually getting on top by a neck.

Lynam admitted being “heartbroken” by the filly’s display in Navan, explaining: “I like her a lot and though she’d run well first time. But she seemed to get stage-fright. She was still green today, but showed a little bit of what we think of her. I think she’ll improve with racing.”

Declan McDonogh matched Smullen’s double, partnering the remarkable Bubbly Bellini to victory in the four-runner Racing Again June 14th Race before following-up on Andy Slattery’s A Few Dollars More in the five-furlong handicap.

Having raced prominently, Bubbly Bellini dug deep to keep Russian Soul at bay by a half-length, recording his fifteenth career success, to the delight of trainer Ado McGuinness, who stated: “He’s been unbelievable this year and really seems to be enjoying life.

“He’s been a super horse for us and it’s hard to believe he got beaten off 47 in Lingfield soon after we got him.

“He’s in at the Curragh on Sunday, but won’t run if the ground dries out.

“I don’t know what the handicapper will to do with him now, but he’ll probably have to step into a stakes race somewhere. He’s a wonderful horse and just puts his head down and battles.”

McDonogh struck again when A Few Dollars More, running for the first time on grass, defied joint top-weight in the sprint handicap, earning a crack at the Rockingham, according to trainer Andy Slattery.

At the other end of the scale, Jack Kennedy (16), from Dingle, champion pony rider for the last three years, registered his first success under rules when landing the Social Packages Handicap on the Pat Flynn-trained 33/1 shot Funny How, which held Lady Ranger by a head.

Kennedy, who rode a total of 221 winners on the pony circuit, is based with Gordon Elliott, rode for the first time over hurdles at Clonmel on Thursday and looks a star of the future.

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