Wicklow Brave is Royal Ascot-bound after effortless success in Listowel

Wicklow Brave proved himself on course for the marathon Queen Alexandra Stakes in Royal Ascot when recording an effortless, odds-on victory in the Bryan MacMahon Amateur Race, yesterday’s finale in Listowel.

Patrick Mullins oozed confidence on the 1/5 shot, now the winner of eight races, three bumpers, three hurdles and, now, two under flat rules.

Having tracked the leaders, he eased into second spot approaching the straight, soon cruised alongside Cardinal Palace and, inside the final furlong, edged clear to score, hard held, by five and a half lengths.

The winning rider commented: “His pedigree suggests he should be a high quality flat horse. I’d imagine he’ll go to Royal Ascot now, although I’d prefer if Dad kept him for the “GPT” (the big amateur handicap in Galway).”

The Aidan O’Brien-trained debutant Deauville, in the familiar colours of Mrs Fitri Hay, justified favouritism in the Irish Stallion Farms 2-Y-0 Maiden, the first seven-furlong race of the season for juveniles.

Prominent throughout, the Galileo colt stayed on dourly to beat Hoppala by two lengths, to the satisfaction of winning rider Seamus Heffernan.

“It’s easy to like him,” he stated. “He was quite professional, but a bit green under pressure. The ground is soft and he handled it well. He should improve for the run.”

Runner-up in his two previous starts, Sight Hound, trained by Dermot Weld for Calumet Farm, provided seven-times champion Pat Smullen with his 40th success of the season when justifying 6/5 favouritism in the www.listowelraces.ie Median Auction Maiden.

“He was entitled to win on form and this proves that a mile is his best trip,” said Smullen, who failed in his bid to double-up on the Willie Mullins-trained favourite Laviniad in the Follow Listowel Races On Facebook Handicap.

A facile winner at Gowran Park on Wednesday, the 11/10 favourite failed by a half-length to collar 33/1 shot Hurricane Twister enterprisingly ridden by Gary Phillips for Victor Clifford, who trains in Castlemartyr, County Cork.

The eight-year-old, whose last win came in October 2012, poached a clear lead turning for home and held on grimly.

The Jim Bolger-trained Knocknagree, a daughter of Galileo, earned a valuable bracket when outpointing Takeachanceonme in the Croom House Stud Fillies Maiden, a race sponsored by her owners Denis and Joan Brosnan. Ger Flynn, representing Bolger, said: “She was entitled to win on form and, after rearing up in the gates, did well to win. We’ll have to see where she fits in, but I’m sure she’ll go looking for some black type .”

Former champion apprentice Connor King partnered Ecoeye, trained by Austin Leahy for his wife Ellen, to an emphatic win over gambled-on front-runner Bob’s The Business and the frustrating No Way Jack in the seven-furlong George Fitzmaurice Handicap.

Leahy commented: “His first run was great, but he ran awful in both Dundalk and Clonmel. Maybe the trip, a mile and a quarter, was beyond him. He’ll go for another similar handicap.”

Fran Berry had Bay Hill in front soon after the start of the St. John’s Literary Centre Handicap and the Christy Roche-trained grey, described by his rider as “quirky”, dictated the pace for a workmanlike victory over top-weight Cairiuil.

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