The first leg came in the opening McGrath Oil Maiden courtesy of Dolce Strega. The 3-1 chance had shown real promise on debut, and impressed with a fine success here.
Zebgrey was sent off a heavily backed odds-on favourite, and was first to show, while Anania looked a real danger as she moved to challenge two furlongs out. But, a look in behind revealed Lee was confident aboard Dolce Strega, and he produced his mount to lead in the final hundred yards for a cosy half-length victory.
The middle leg of the treble came in the Connolly’s Red Mills Handicap, with 6-1 chance Ostatnia. Away well from her low draw, she had the pace to sit prominently from the outset, and quickened up well to win with plenty to spare.
The winning trainer commented: “Like all sprinters, she needs to get an arse on her, and strengthen up. Blinkers helped her concentrate, as she can be away with the fairies.”
McCreery’s Bridgets Fable caused a 14-1 upset when coming from off the pace to take the Fillies’ Maiden, over seven and a half furlongs. Market leaders Simannka and Santa Monica set the tempo and looked to have the race between them from an early stage. The latter looked to be getting on top over a furlong out but swished her tail under pressure, as Simannka regained the lead inside the final furlong.
However, newcomer Bridgets Fable, who had settled off the pace, flew down the outside to snatch victory in the shadow of the post.
Said Lee: “She’s a nice filly. She was running a nice race and then, a furlong out, I thought these (leaders) weren’t getting away from me and I was starting to pick up. She finished off the race really well.”
Of his partnership with McCreery, he added: “I’m up there once a week, and we’re getting on very well. He works the horses well, and it’s going great.”
McCreery, who was an All-Ireland finalist with Kildare in 1998, added: “It’s my first treble, though I did score three goals in a match, one time.”
Of Bridgets Fable, he commented: “She’s an honest little devil, who tries very hard. I don’t know if the race fell for her a bit, the other two took each other on and Billy came up the better ground, as he had done twice already. It was a lovely ride. She seemed to handle that ground, and stayed well, so there are many options for her.”
Of his association with Lee, he said: “I’ve used Billy a lot this year because he’s quiet on a horse, very easy on them, and he’ll admit it if he rides a wrong race - he’s a very honest young lad.”
The Listed Kilfrush Stud Abergwaun Stakes went the way of British raider Monsieur Joe, in the hands of Joseph O’Brien. The eight-year-old, trained by Paul Midgley, in Manton, was quick to find his stride and responded generously to stretch clear before any serious challenger could emerge.
The Ger Lyons-trained Waipu Cove, who was a runaway winner of a Nursery at Galway last weekend, showed just how progressive he is by following up in the Listed Coolmore Canford Cliffs Stakes at Tipperary.
In light of unrelenting support for 8-11 favourite Port Douglas, the winner drifted to 9-2. However, having settled off the pace early, he was the only one able to mount a challenge to long-time leader Play The Game. The two had a real ding-dong battle inside the final furlong but Waipu Cove pulled out a little extra, to record a half-length victory.
Said Shane Lyons: “He had a really handy race last Saturday, and our hand was forced to put him into the Listed race today. We took a chance with the ground. It was heavy before, and it’s drying out and they’re going in and not coming back out.
“Colin (Keane) said he hated it, but his heart brought him there. He didn’t want to hit the front too soon. On that performance, he’ll get further. Character-wise he’s a beautiful horse, real laid-back, but, as far as the future is concerned, we’ll take a deep breath now, as he’s had two runs in six days.”
Connor King was seen to great effect aboard the John Joe Walsh-trained Apache Gold in the first division of the Dan Dooley Ford Centre Handicap. Settled behind the pacesetting Cash Or Casualty, he challenged a furlong out, and ran on strongly to see off his fellow 5-1 joint-favourite.
High Focus was delivered with a strong late charge, down the wide outside to take the second division for trainer Jim Bolger.