Trained for the Galway-based Weir House Syndicate by Edward O’Grady, the four-year-old Footstepsinthesand gelding tracked the leaders before being unleashed by Billy Lee, between horses, early in the straight. In front two furlongs, he stayed on well to beat Artful Artist by two and a half lengths with Tara Dylan in third.
Le Vagabond was Lee’s third winner of the meeting, following his double on Wednesday for Willie McCreery, which included victory on Erysimum in the listed Ruby Stakes.
A delighted O’Grady admitted: “He’s been running consistently in those flat handicaps and when you do that you have to get lucky in one – and today was his day.”
He added: “The steady pace probably helped him, because we weren’t sure about him over the trip. But he’s settling better and loves that good ground, although I hope he’ll handle softer as he gets older and stronger.
“We have plenty of options for him, including one of the big handicaps on Champions Weekend or the Lartigue (valuable four-year-old handicap hurdle) in Listowel.”
Successful with two-year-old Percy on Wednesday, Ger Lyons was on the mark again when Zubari made all under Colin Keane to land the Dunloe Hotel Handicap in impressive style.
The Approve gelding dictated the pace and had most of his rivals in trouble turning for home, with more than three furlongs to race. The 7/4 favourite ran on strongly through the final furlong to slam Path Of Silver by seven lengths.
“He ran his race in Leopardstown the last day and just bumped into one,” said Lyons. “This was the right race, in the right place, with the right draw (one).
“There’s been a lot of interest in him to go jumping, so we’ll have to see what happens.
“The handicapper will decide how we sell him. He’s entered up at the Curragh and Tipperary, but it’s unlikely that I’ll turn him out again quickly – it rarely works out for me.”
Very green when well-beaten on his debut in Galway, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Wings Of Eagles improved significantly to turn over odds-on favourite Birds Of Prey in the opening two-year-old median auction maiden.
Ridden by Emmet McNamara, the Pour Moi colt again showed signs of inexperience before scoring by a length and a quarter, prompting the winning rider to comment: “He was extremely green first time in Galway, which is a very tough track first time out. Seamie (Heffernan) educated him there and we saw the results today. He came forward well from that run and won well in the end today. He’ll stay further.”
The Willie Mullins-trained King’s Wharf, successful over hurdles on this track last month, completed a hat-trick when coming from off the pace under a typically well-judged ride by Ruby Walsh to justify 11/8 favouritism in the Owens McCarthy Claims Specialists Handicap Chase.
Walsh explained: “He jumped super – the best he’s jumped over hurdles or fences. He’s defied a penalty today, and I’m not sure if he’ll defy another one over fences.”
“But I’d say he’ll go to Bellewstown next Thursday for a handicap hurdle – he has to go left-handed.”
Michael Halford admitted: “It’s a while since we had a bumper winner,” after 15/8 favourite Copernicus proved an emphatic, five lengths winner of the bumper for Nina Carberry.
“He’s a half-brother to Asbury Boss and he took time to come to himself – he forgot to stop growing. But he’s getting the hang of things and, on his work, he’d be good enough to win a maiden. Fair play to Nicky (owner Nicky Hartery) – he’s been very patient, waiting for this fellow.”
The Mouse Morris-trained 12/1 shot Baily Cloud bounced back from an unlucky run in Galway to land the Killarney Oaks Hotel Novice Chase, in which longshot Talk The Lingo sustained a fatal injury going to the third fence.
Ridden by Mark Enright, Baily Cloud got the better of front-running favourite Deans Road and Akito before the final fence before holding the renewed effort of Tiger Roll by a length and a half.
Paddy Neville, based in Askeaton, County Limerick, registered his first success since early April when Kemboy, enterprisingly ridden by Ryan Treacy, made all to beat Castle Fall’s in the Malton Hotel Handicap Chase.
“That was a long-time coming,” declared a relieved and delighted Neville.
“He’s an old horse, but he has very little mileage on the clock – he’s had a lot of problems.
“He likes this track and good ground. He disappointed us the last day when they watered the track. We’ll see how he is in the morning. We’ll probably keep it local – he’ll go to Listowel now.”