Trained for local owner Frank Lynch by Gavin Cromwell, the five-year-old, tackling a mile and a half for the first time, came from off the pace under Sean Corby to beat Saga Bolton by a neck, recording his sixth win on the polytrack since September. A delighted Cromwell admitted: “He’s unreal and surprises me every day. He shows very little at home and keeps it for this place.”
Outlining plans he said: “I’d love to qualify him for the big day in Lingfield (Good Friday). But the first qualifier here is not until March 4 so I’ll probably travel over to get him qualified. He’s won over the mile and a half tonight, but I’d say a mile and quarter is his ideal trip.”
The Tracey Collins-trained Chiclet registered her fourth course and distance success when making virtually all to land the Jolly January Dining Special Handicap, the first race of 2016 on Dundalk’s polytrack.
Ridden by apprentice Gary Halpin, the five-year-old mare displayed her customary early pace and led her rivals a merry dance throughout. And, when tackled by Primo Uomo, she found plenty to triumph by a half-length.
The winning trainer explained: “Gary’s claim made a big difference and he gave her a good polished ride. He got her out good and smart and held onto her for as long as he could. She’s very honest and loves racing and we’ll see what the handicapper does before making plans. She’s very like her sire (Dandy Man) – she is getting better and stronger all the time and has a wonderful temperament.”
The track’s leading trainer Michael Halford, currently in Dubai, didn’t have to wait long to get off the mark for 2016 as 1/2 favourite Roman Impero bolted-up by four and a half lengths under Conor Hoban in the seven-furlong Big Bad Bob Maiden.
“He had the experience and was entitled to win on his last run (second to Alphonsus),” stated Hoban. “He’s still learning and had a good look around when we went to the front. He should come forward again. It’s a good start to the year for the boss.”
Trainer Pat Martin declared: “I don’t think I’ve ever had a winner on the first day – it’s great and takes the pressure off for a week or two,” after Ishebayorgrey got the better of favourite Marise, narrowly, in the seven-furlong rated race.
He added: “Kevin (Manning) rode a winner for Ray (owner Ray Moore) in Sligo back in 2007, a horse called Lucky Spring, and he gave this horse a smashing ride and timed it to perfection. This fellow likes it around here and will be back – six or seven furlongs suits him.”
Ronan Whelan partnered Rock On Rosie to victory in the Crowne Plaza Handicap, getting the better of favourite Jimmy Kelly before holding Belong by two lengths. Winning trainer Adrian Joyce said: “That was overdue – she’s been very consistent and deserved it. I’ve been getting the tactics wrong and she was ridden differently tonight. She’ll have a break and, with a low rating over hurdles, we should have fun with her for the summer,”
The Professional Jockeys Association in Britain has slammed the two-year ban handed down to jockey Michael Stainton for his part in the Ad Vitam corruption case, arguing the rider has been unfairly treated and punished under the wrong rule.
The PJA believes the actions of Stainton, who was not proven to have received any financial reward for his rides, mean he should be facing a ban for intentionally not asking his mount for sufficient effort, meriting a suspension of up to 90 days, and not the harsher punishment for committing a corrupt or fraudulent practice.