John Murphy’s team is hitting top form and Celtic Crown, who caught the eye in Killarney, stepped up nicely to win the Paddy Smyth Memorial Apprentice Handicap in Ballinrobe last night.
Ridden by promising young rider Joey Sheridan, who recorded a double on the card, she got up in the final yards to collar favourite Bestrella.
Sheridan completed his brace when Shumaker, trained by Paul Traynor, took the second division of the one-mile-five handicap. Rated 125 over hurdles but just 38 on the level, he travelled well, took over going best before the turn for home, and readily held market rival Jeff Kidder, the pair a long way clear.
Red Line Alexander had a tough draw in the opener, a nine-and-a-half-furlong maiden, but the 84-rated filly showed class to get off the mark for Paddy Twomey and Billy Lee.
Connections of runner-up St Clerans, who was noted running on strongly, took the following maiden with Nan Yehi. Having his first run for Jessica Harrington, Shane Foley’s mount scooted clear to win by a wide margin.
Declan McDonogh had to be at his strongest to get the Pat Fahy-trained Dani’s Boy, returned at 50-1, home in front in an exciting finish to the David Heneghan Memorial Handicap. And the winning trainer completed a 1,325-1 double when 11-y-o Western Boy made light of a 16-month absence to win the John Madden & Sons Handicap.
In the absence of Alatar, there was little resistance to Monument Valley in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden and Aidan O’Brien’s colt made all the running for an easy success under Wayne Lordan.
There was a tight finish to the first division of the Bay Leaf Handicap, and it was well supported 3-1 favourite Cliara who hit the line in front for John McConnell and Shane Foley.
A 12-furlong winner on the level, Joe Murphy’s Swelltime got off the mark over hurdles at the second time of asking when making virtually all the running in the Connolly’s Red Mills Maiden Hurdle at Gowran Park.
His task was made easier at the second-last by the departure of challenger Pepperoni Pete, who hampered Isotope, whose jockey unseated his rider, leaving David Mullins and Swelltime to come home a long way clear.
Jon Ess got off the mark over timber at the 14th time of asking when making most to win the first division of the Goffs Supporting Irish Racing Maiden for Conor O’Dwyer and Ricky Doyle. Odds-on favourite Meticulous held every chance but was beaten early in the straight.
The second division went to With A Start, having his second run for Noel Meade. His jumping was not foot-perfect but, after market rivals Avanzi pulled up, he was left with a straightforward task and made the most of it under Sean Flanagan.
Shark Hanlon’s team is in superb form and his recent Tipperary Maiden Hurdle winner Skyace followed up with an all-the-way victory in the Support The Irish Injured Jockeys’ Fund Hurdle.
There were five non-runners in the Holden Plant Rentals Handicap Hurdle, in which Luis Van Zandt, having his second run for the stable, became the first leg of a quick double for Gavin Cromwell and Jonathan Moore. The second leg came half an hour later when Flooring Porter dug deep under pressure to take the Golf Open Days At Gowran Park Handicap Hurdle at the expense of Cusp Of Carabelli.
Mr Jackman, a winner on debut, defied a penalty in the four-year-olds’ bumper. James Hoban made a bold bid to kick away from the final bend, but the winner picked up impressively under Jamie Codd to win well. Codd and winning trainer Gordon Elliott also took the other bumper with odds-on favourite Jimmy Jimmy.