The Aga Khan-owned Shamash, stepping-up in trip and wearing cheekpieces for the first time, was kept wide throughout the Sligo Champion Supporting Sligo GAA Maiden before forging clear to slam the well-backed Crossandra by five and a half lengths.
“The ground and the longer trip helped him today,” Halford said. “He’s the type that should keep improving through the year. And we’ll see what sort of mark he gets.”
The Halford double was completed when the Paul Rooney-owned Shadagann ran out a convincing winner of the Kilcawley Construction Sligo Maiden Hurdle in the hands of Paul Carberry.
“I was worried about the ground, although his Flat form is good, and it turned out to be pretty straight-forward,” said Halford.
Willie McCreery continued on his winning ways when Clon Rocket, ridden by Billy Lee, proved a shock winner of the opening two-year-old median auction maiden.
The 25/1 shot swooped inside the final furlong to master Fair Game, who was ultimately denied second spot by Set To Fire. McCreery said: “He was working well before he went to Navan (for his debut), but he went mad at the start and almost attacked the stalls. He’s been gelded since then, although it took time to get his hormone levels right.”
Raised 7lbs. for a recent second at Tramore but running off his old mark, the James Barrett-trained Three Colours Red bolted-up under Robbie Downey in the Sligo Racing Club Apprentice Handicap. The winner might reappear at the Curragh on Sunday.
Another apprentice on the mark was Daniel Redmond, who partnered the Paul Flynn-trained The Ring Is King (16/1) to victory over Sheilas Wish in the Sligo Students Day 30th September Handicap.
Flynn came tantalisingly close to a double when the gallant Steel King (Pat Corbett) was nailed on the line by Michael McCullagh’s Slygufftou, who completed a hat-trick under a determined ride by Luke Dempsey.
The grey was defying a 6lbs rise for his win at the Galway Festival, getting up on the line to score by a short-head.
The Aidan Howard-trained Enter The Red notched his second career success when, dashingly ridden by Fran Berry, he got up close home to foil flattering favourite Cash Or Casualty and 2013 winner Vasoni in the Joe Queenan Gala Strandhill Supporting Sligo GAA Handicap. The tough six-year-old prevailed by a head in a three-way photo-finish.
Rory Cleary, rider of runner-up Cash Or Casualty, was suspended for five days for using his whip excessively.
Drive The Bus, trained and ridden by Denis Hogan, landed a tidy gamble (5/1 to 3/1) in the finale, the Radisson Blue Hotel Sligo Handicap Hurdle, taking advantage of his significantly lower hurdle mark, to send favourite-backers home happy.