Following on from his four winners in Downpatrick, Gordon Elliott added one at Killarney for good measure, and it proved to be the easiest winner on the card: Chosen Mate, in the first division of the MC Construction Qualified Riders’ Maiden.
Settled close to the pace by Lisa O’Neill, the Grand Annual winner moved easily to challenge long-time leader Polished Steel early in the straight and picked up under little pressure to beat Nibblers Charm, with Peregrine Run staying on into third place. “The horses all seem to be in great form, and he did it very well,” said O’Neill. “He travelled away most of the way around and jumped on the bridle at the two-furlong pole like a fresh horse. Hopefully it’s the start of a good season for him.”
The second division of the mile-and-six contest was a Byrnes family affair, with Cathal leading in brother Phillip aboard Run For Oscar, trained by their father, Charles. Winner of a bumper, the five-year-old was odds-on to take what looked a good opportunity and there were few anxious moments as Phillip brought with a strong late run to win readily.
For the third consecutive year, trainer Aidan O’Brien took the Dawn Milk Run Race, this time doing so with odds-on favourite Keats. Once Wayne Lordan won the battle for early supremacy, he controlled the race aboard the Gowran maiden winner, and a challenge never materialised, though Real Force bounced back to his best by taking second place.
“He races lazily and did the whole way down the back,” said Lordan. “He is a horse who tries very hard and I was trying to keep him going forward because he doesn’t quicken if something came to him, but he would grind it out, so I was trying to keep the revs up.
“He had a good run at the Curragh the last day (behind Napa Valley) and was coming here the one to beat. I felt the last day, over a mile and a quarter, that he would have every chance of getting a mile and a half, and I still felt the same today.”
John Murphy does particularly well at this track and Sharp Focus gave him another success here when securing back-to-back wins in the Dawn Hi+Lo Milk Handicap. Summer’s Dream went clear early and dug deep under pressure but the winner, ridden confidently by Killian Leonard, had his measure in the straight.
Raphael bounced back to form in the Kelly Farm Modernisation Ltd Apprentice Handicap. Mary Salome made a bold bid to steal the race from the front but Raphael, trained by Ado McGuinness and ridden by Stephen Mooney, got up in the final stride to deny the filly by a short head, with Imposing Supreme just a head further back.
Kilkenny trainer Dick Donohoe and promising young rider Dylan Browne McMonagle teamed up to take the Easyclean Handicap with Harvey Specter. Bridging a gap of almost three years since his last win, the 8-1 chance travelled well to early in the straight and, to his credit, picked up well for pressure to win by a clear margin.
Excluding Tuesday’s break from racing, Dermot Weld continued his sequence of a winner a day since last Friday, when Haparanda took the Jim Ryan Racecourse Services Handicap. Sporting cheekpieces for the first time, she took over a furlong out and ran on well to win quite readily for Oisin Orr.