Denise Foster savours finest hour at Navan

Lily’s Rainbow, enterprisingly ridden by Billy Lee, gave local trainer Denise Foster the biggest success of her career when landing the listed heritage Stakes (transferred from Cork), on a day of surprises, in very testing ground, in Navan yesterday.
Denise Foster savours finest hour at Navan

Soon in front, the 16/1 shot dictated the pace under Billy Lee and, racing downhill towards the two-furlong marker, the four-year-old filly had most of her rivals in trouble.

Brendan Brackan spear-headed the chasing group but Lily’s Rainbow ran on strongly up the hill to triumph by three and a quarter lengths.

“I can’t believe it — I came here hoping to finish third or fourth, so winning is great,” declared the delighted winning trainer.

“She was the smallest filly in the field, but she has such a big heart. I’m so proud of her.”

Aidan O’Brien won the other stakes race on the card, the listed Salsabil Stakes, courtesy of 9/1 outsider Pretty Perfect.

It was the middle leg of a treble for the O’Brien team, initiated by Joseph’s two-year-old Hyzenthlay (20/1) and completed by the impressive The Gurkha, a winner for Ryan Moore on his first visit to Navan, in the colts’ maiden.

Colm O’Donoghue made the running on Pretty Perfect and, tackled by Glamorous Approach with more than two furlongs to race, stayed on dourly to triumph by three and a half lengths.

O’Brien said: “We held her up the first day, but Ana made the running on her when she won in Leopardstown. And Colm did the same today and gave her a great ride. She definitely looks a stayer. And we’ll look at one of the Oaks trials for her now.”

The Gurkha, an eye-catching third to stable-companion Claudio Monteverdi on his debut at Leopardstown recently, powered to nine-length win in the mile maiden, in which odds-on favourite Aasheq proved a huge disappointment.

“We though he was very nice going to Leopardstown, but something happened in the back straight and he got too far back,” said O’Brien.

“But he came home well and Seamus felt he was a very smart horse. Ryan used his good draw today and he won well. So you’d have to be very happy with him.”

O’Brien added: “We always thought he could be a French Guineas horse and that’s where he might go.”

Hyzenthlay, the first two-year-old runner from Joseph O’Brien’s Owning base, proved a shock winner of the two-year-old maiden, holding Oh Grace by a half-length.

Joseph O’Brien said: “She was our first two-year-old runner, so we didn’t know what to expect. She’s been going nicely, and showing plenty of speed, and I thought she’d run okay. But I wasn’t expecting this.”

Ger Lyons registered his first win of the turf season when Spader, in the colours of chief patron Sean Jones, made all to land the Come To The Family Day May 15th Handicap in convincing style under stable-jockey Colin Keane.

“He’s a grand little horse and always works well at home,” stated Lyons. “He’s by Jeremy and handled the ground well.”

Colin Keane completed a double when Misty Millie, a 16/1 shot, trained near Balbriggan by Peter Cluskey, bolted-up in the one-mile fillies maiden, from which odds-on favourite Creme De la was withdrawn after refusing to enter the stalls.

The daughter of Dylan Thomas powered clear from the three-furlong pole to beat Ballydoyle debutante Earring by 14 lengths.

“We took a chance running her because we were dubious about the ground,” Cluskey said. “To be honest, I didn’t think she’d do it as well as she did but the way she won, she should be able to do more.”

Pat Shanahan’s Charlie’s Missile, ridden by Killian Leonard (picked-up a two-day whip ban), opened his account when proving too strong for Enter The Red and favourite Deeds Not Words in the 20-runner sprint handicap.

And Seamus Heffernan provided local trainer Tom Gibney with a last-race success when Next Bend (8/1) held the late effort of top-weight Prussian Eagle in the Navan Adventure Sports Handicap.

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