Representing the John Joe Walsh stable, which enjoyed a successful national hunt campaign this winter, the 10-1 chance was settled out the back, with just two behind, for much of the trip.
Jockey Rory Clearly asked his mount to begin to get competitive leaving the back, but the pair ran into traffic problems racing down the hill. Storm Away sprinted to the front on the run for home but the eventual winner found daylight with more than a furlong to go, and picked up really well to get on top late. Eshtiaal, who was sent off the heavily backed odds-on favourite, had to settle for fifth.
“Rory gave him a good, patient ride and, on this better ground, he came back to form,” said Walsh. “He had been running over hurdles all winter, without much luck. We will stick to the flat while he’s in that sort of form.”
Willie McCreery and Billy Lee continued their fine start to the season when taking the EBF Fillies’ Maiden with Invincible Lia. Settled in third place, some six lengths off the pace being set by High Honcho, who went off quickly in front, she was ridden to challenge turning for home, and asserted late to win with a little in hand.
“She was a bit backward last year, but is very honest,” said McCreery. “She improved a lot from her first run of the season at Dundalk and will come on again for that.”
Only four went to post for the West Gate Median Auction Race but it produced the best finish of the night, as Simannka snatched victory under Pat Smullen.
The Dermot Weld-trained filly, making her seasonal debut, tracked the pace being set by Tonkinese and Flirt, before moving to challenge as they turned for home. The daughter of Mastercrasftman took a narrow lead halfway up the straight, but was all out to deny the renewed effort of Tonkinese by a short head.
Winning rider Smullen said: “Shane’s (Foley) horse was coming back at me a bit, but she did it well, to be fair. Probably the undulations didn’t play to her strengths, but she battled it out well.”
The market struggled to separate the runners in the seven-runner handicap over ten furlongs, to such an extent that just minutes before the race they were betting 4-1 co-favourites of five. However, at the off there were 7-2 joint favourites and it was one of those, Birthplace, who prevailed, with a little up his sleeve.
The only three-year-old in the race, he was ridden prominently from the outset by Ana O’Brien and, while he never quite got away from his rivals in the straight, won by a cosy three parts of a length.
Winning trainer Joseph O’Brien commented: “The ground was a big help, and three-year-olds get a nice allowance at this time of year. We think he’ll stay further and if the handicapper is not too harsh we might get another one out of him.”
Mademoiselle Penny (8-1 to 9-2f) landed a tidy gamble when carrying top weight to victory in the BBQ Race Evening Friday June 10 Handicap. Danny Grant sent the Pat Flynn-trained four-year-old to the front early, and she held that lead to the turn for home. The chasing pack closed rapidly from that point, but the game filly responded generously to deny Honor Oak by half a length, with Trans City the same distance back in third.
“She’s a very tough, honest filly,” said Flynn. “We were confident coming here, and Danny is a top pilot – if the horses are good enough, he’ll win on them. She should win another one so long as she doesn’t go too high in the handicap.”
A claiming race had opened the card, and the Jessica Harrington-trained Escape Paradise justified favouritism under Colm O’Donoghue. After setting out to make all, he was headed early in the straight, but responded to pressure to lead again over a furlong out, before pulling clear in the closing stages.
The evening’s action closed with Danequest completing back-to-back victories, following his recent win at Dundalk. The 6-1 chance was keen early, but led leaving the back, and responded well for Conor Hoban’s pressure to hold the late effort of Our Rachael by the minimum.
“It’s not half as far as Dundalk – we’ll be home in an hour tonight,” joked winning Castlelyons-based trainer Rodger Sweeney. “If we got another two-mile race on the flat I’d let him take his chance, otherwise he will go back over hurdles.”