The course specialist was the middle leg of a 34/1 treble for Pat Smullen, back from a stint in Dubai.
A close third to Grey Mirage in the one-mile event at the All-Weather Championships last year, seven-year-old Captain Joy won comfortably by a half-length in the end from outsider Geological. The winner was recording his seventh win at Dundalk and providing his trainer with an emotional success.
Collins explained: “This means a lot. I’ve never been as apprehensive coming racing – I was sick with worry because he’s a family pet and has come through a lot.”
And she added: “He was a very sick horse and was one of the last horses the late Ned Gowing looked after for us. It’s a great achievement for the team at Anglesey Lodge and all of my own staff to get him back here after colic surgery.
“Pat looked after him tonight and he should improve a lot from this run. We’ll train him for another crack at the All-Weather Championships now.”
The versatile Ancient Sands, trained for the Mee family by John Kiely, defied top-weight in the Download The Ladbrokes App Handicap, staying on under a strong ride from Smullen to thwart Whatever It Takes by a neck.
The eight-year-old is now unbeaten in three starts on Dundalk’s polytrack. Smullen commented: “He handles that surface extremely well, but he doesn’t kill himself when he gets to the front. I spoke to John (Kiely) earlier and he told me the horse was in very good form.”
Smullen rounded-off a tremendous night when partnering the tough and consistent Hat Alnasar to victory in the finale, the ‘This is the Ladbrokes Life’ Handicap.
Recording his fourth win on the track, the four-year-old Moss Vale colt displayed his customary tenacity to get the better of McGuigan by a length and a quarter.
Crazy Tornado, a Big Bad Bib gelding, provided apprentice Conor McGovern with his fourteenth career success when winning the six-furlong Big Bad Bob Maiden, initiating a double for trainer Michael Halford.
Drawn low and quick from the gate, the 5/4 favourite made all and battled tenaciously in the closing stages to keep Inner Knowing at bay by a neck, prompting his trainer to explain: “They went a bit fast the last day and took him out of his comfort-zone. But he had a definite chance on his previous run. I’d say the 7lb. claim made the difference between winning and losing.”
Trainer Adrian McGuinness described Rocking The Blue as “ a big, lairy horse, but improving all the time” after the progressive Fastnet Rock colt bolted-up in the mile and a half maiden, stretching clear for Colin Keane to triumph by six and a half lengths.
He added, “He’ll be gelded on Monday and should develop into a nice dual-purpose horse for the summer, with a bit of juice in the ground. He might be good enough to run in some good handicaps. I’d love to bring him to the likes of Galway.”
Narrowly beaten here last week, The Mouse Doctor, ridden by Kevin Manning, provided trainer Brendan Duke with a welcome change of luck when justifying 4/5 favouritism in the one-mile Ladbrokes Maiden, keeping on under pressure to beat debutant First Class Ticket by a length and a quarter before surviving a Stewards Enquiry.
Raymond Devereaux claimed Long Journey Home for €7,000 following the eight-year-old’s gutsy victory under Billy Lee in the opening Ladbrokes Claiming race.
Having his first run for Mick Butler, the 13/8 favourite was headed by Corker Hill before the furlong-pole but battled bravely to regain the initiative close home and score by a neck, prompting his trainer to admit, “I only have the horse a month, so I don’t know too much about him.”