Watersmeet, trained by Mark Johnston, made virtually all to land the Coral.ie Race, a Fast Track Qualifier for the All-Weather Championships in Lingfield Park on Good Friday, while Mark Prescott’s Bear Faced turned-over odds-on favourite Clear Cut in the Big Bad Bob 3-Y-0 Race.
Joe Fanning again displayed his tactical astuteness on board Watersmeet, who dictated the pace and kept finding more when pressed by Mandatario and Political Policy from the two-furlong pole.
Although joined with more than a furlong to race, the five-year-old ultimately won cosily, by a half-length, from Political Policy.
“I’d say he’ll be aimed at one of the Championship races now,” said Fanning.
“It’s a long way up the straight here and he was just idling in front— he’s a bit like that.”
Earlier, Declan McDonogh spoke of his joy after partnering Bear Faced to a convincing victory over odds-on favourite Clear Cut in the Big Bad Bob 3-Y-0 Race.
“He made the running the last day and Luke Morris told Sir Mark that he didn’t like it. So I was hoping to get a lead and, when I asked him to quicken, he picked up well and put the race to bed quickly,” McDonogh said.
Kasbah continued Johnny Murtagh’s rich vein of form when defying top-weight under Connor King in the opening sprint handicap.
Kasbah landed a tidy gamble, having been backed from as big as 10/1 with one firm in the morning before being sent off at 3/1.
And he won readily, by a half-length, from Go Kart with the favourite Split The Atom a similar distance away in third.
“He’s quite a good horse and that was smooth,” stated Murtagh.
The Gordon Elliott-trained Eshtiaal, who holds engagements in the Coral Cup and Martin Pipe at Cheltenham, made a successful return to action in the concluding amateur riders’ handicap.
Ridden by Lisa O’Neill, the versatile six-year-old defied top-weight of 12-3, less his rider’s claim, in good style, holding Cardinal Palace, who had to be switched to the outside before delivering his challenge.
“I thought he was the classiest horse in the race and Lisa gave him a good ride,” said Elliott’s assistant Olly Murphy. “He should come on from the run.”
Fran Berry registered his first success in Ireland this year when Drillmaster, trained by Charles O’Brien, landed the seven-furlong three-year-old handicap at the expense of Prove The Point.
“He was a bit disappointing the last day, but still has room for improvement and there should be another one in him,” said Berry.
Runaway winner of a maiden over course and distance last week, Lusis Naturea, ridden again by apprentice Oisin Orr, made a successful handicap debut for County Derry trainer Noel Kelly in the Bet Now On Every race At Cheltenham On Coral.ie Handicap, getting the better of favourite Alnasar.
Poetic Choice triumphed under Robbie Downey in the Free Bets At Coral.ie Handicap, getting the better of Rose Angel to record her first win since joining Keith Clarke, who explained: “She prefers a wide draw and doesn’t like being intimidated down the inside. So it probably helped her breaking slowly.
“Robbie said she was full of running when he produced her to challenge and just did enough.”