Decision to stay in Dundalk pays off for Grey Danube with victory in Crowne Plaza Handicap

Off the track since June, Grey Danube sprang a 12/1 shock in the featured Crowne Plaza Handicap in Dundalk last night.
Decision to stay in Dundalk pays off for Grey Danube with victory in Crowne Plaza Handicap

Enterprisingly ridden by Leigh Roche, the Darren Bunyan-trained six-year-old made all and held on grimly to hold the David Marnane-trained pair Jamesie (2/1 favourite) and Seanie.

Grey Danube was registering his seventh career success, all achieved at Dundalk. Trainer Bunyan admitted: “There should be plenty of improvement to come from him – we haven’t been able to get proper work into him with the gallops in the state they’ve been in.

“We had a choice to make, whether to bring him to Dubai or keep him at home for the winter, to run here and Lingfield.

“We decided it would suit him better here. The Cleeve Stakes at Lingfield in February is his main winter target.”

Runner-up in her two previous runs on the polytrack, Go Kart, trained for John O’Connor (of Ballylinch Stud fame) by Patrick Prendergast, justified even-money favouritism in the opening Christmas Party Nights At Dundalk Stadium 2-Y-0 Race.

The 87-rated daughter of Intense Focus, a maiden winner at Down Royal, raced prominently throughout and, in front two furlongs out, kept on strongly for apprentice Robbie Downey to beat Spirit Glance by a length and a quarter, prompting her rider to explain: “She was the best horse in the race, so Patrick told me not to complicate things. Everything went to plan and she won with a bit in hand.

“Patrick has always said that she’s a real five-furlong filly and she’s one to look forward to next year.”

Tracey Collins stated: “She’s been very consistent, but a bit unfortunate and deserved this,” after Eagle Valley, in the familiar colours of Michael Ryan, won the one-mile Big Bad Bob Maiden, making all under Ronan Whelan.

The winning trainer added: “It was important to get the maiden win under her belt and, as she’s a big filly, she’ll, hopefully, keep improving. We’ll keep her on the go for the winter. We might bring her to St.Moritz (racing on the snow) in February.”

Ronan Whelan completed a double when bringing the Tony Mullins-trained 20/1 shot Saga Bolton with a storming late challenge to deny Carried close home in the finale, the Fund Raising Made Easy at Dundalk Handicap.

The often frustrating Manorov landed the first division of the one-mile 47-65 handicap, providing Colin Keane with a victory on his only mount of the night.

Manorov is trained by Tom McCourt, who said: “Colin rode him with plenty of confidence – you have to ride him that way. He’ll keep going for the winter and we might think about jumping hurdles with him next summer – he needs fast ground.”

The first division of this event went to the Michael Halford-trained 14/1 shot In The Dark, which held slow-starting favourite Our Max and Shukhov.

Winning rider Conor Hoban stated: “They were coming at her from all angles, but she stuck her head out. She really had to battle form the furlong-pole.”

Up 5lb. for a recent course and distance success, the Denis Hogan-trained Tithonus followed-up under Seamus Heffernan in the six-furlong Handicap, making most of the running before holding Shinyhappyjohn by a half-length to justify 9/4 favouritism.

Unlucky on a recent trip to Southwell, 3/1 favourite Split The Atom landed the apprentice handicap for Pat Shanahan and Donnacha O’Brien, holding the fast-finishing Shabra Emperor by a short-head.

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