McCreery lands Fillies Stake at Gowran with Epona Plays

Saturday Racing: Dreal Deal landed a gamble at Navan as he overcame a first-flight blunder
McCreery lands Fillies Stake at Gowran with Epona Plays

Jockey Billy Lee who guided Willie McCreery's Epona Plays to victory at Gowran parfk on Saturday.

Epona Plays landed Group Three honours for trainer Willie McCreery and jockey Billy Lee in the Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes at Gowran Park.

Since shedding her maiden tag at Gowran in July, the daughter of Australia had finished fourth in the Hurry Harriet Stakes at Gowran and third in the Snow Fairy Stakes at the Curragh.

Sent off a 9-2 chance for this nine-and-a-half-furlong contest, Epona Plays travelled kindly into the home straight and got the better of a final furlong battle with Etneya by a neck.

Market leader Ennistymon (2-1) - runner-up in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot and the Oaks at Epsom earlier in the season - was disappointing in first-time blinkers.

McCreery said: "I thought she was a decent filly last year and she ran a cracking race in Leopardstown.

"It's taken her a while to get going, but she loves it here. She's progressing well and they went a proper gallop.

"Billy said she was just behind the bit lovely all the way and when he asked her, she was always going to respond. He said she did it snugly in the end.

"I'm delighted for the owner/breeders Renzo Forni and his daughter Raffaello. That's the fourth of that family that have won for me and the three fillies have all got black type.

"She had a little niggle earlier in the year that we have sorted out and she's coming on the whole time. She's a lovely, scopey filly and goes on any ground."

Meanwhile Dreal Deal landed a gamble at Navan as he overcame a first-flight blunder to win the first division of the 30euro Free Bet For New Customers At Handicap Hurdle.

Sent off the 6-4 favourite for trainer Ronan McNally and jockey Eoin O'Brien, Dreal Deal nearly unshipped his rider shortly after the start, blundering through a hurdle - but O'Brien managed to retain the partnership.

After that scare, Dreal Deal travelled well throughout and eventually ran out a six-and-a-half-length winner, prompting an inquiry from the local stewards as the five-year-old had previously been unplaced in each of his 11 runs under rules.

After hearing from McNally, O'Brien and Andrew Shaw, IHRB's senior National Hunt handicapper, the matter was sent on to the IHRB's referrals committee by the stewards.

Following the win, McNally said: "I spent a lot of money on him after he was second in a point-to-point. He went to the Cheltenham sales but was unsold and I bought him privately.

"On his first run in a maiden hurdle here he was beaten about 30 lengths and I thought that was a great run in a winter maiden. He then ran in Down Royal against Envoi Allen and we tried to go with him. It punctured him and he never showed any form after that, whether that proved too hard of a race.

"The horses probably went out of form coming around Cheltenham time, with aspergillus and stuff.

"I thought I had been sold a dud to be honest, but thankfully now he's starting to show something and that was nice."

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