Leading trainer on Dundalk’s polytrack, Michael Halford struck again, on the double, with Shamiyan and Orchid Gardens at the Louth venue today.
Making his polytrack debut, first reserve Shamiyan seized his opportunity in the Join Us On Instagram @dundalk_stadium Handicap over a mile and a half, prevailing by a neck over The Mouse Doctor following a protracted duel.
The powerfully-built four-year-old was partnered by Ronan Whelan, who explained: “Mick brought him here recently for a gallop and was very happy with him.
“For such a big horse, he has good use of himself. The surface made a huge difference to him and, with a bit of luck, he’ll pay his way both here and if he goes back over hurdles.”
The Halford double was completed when nine-race maiden Orchid Gardens landed the Hollywoodbets.com Maiden over a mile.
Ridden by rising star Sam Ewing, the 11-8 favourite, wearing cheekpieces for the first time, mastered front-running Mosala by a length and a half, with the consistent Stately Home in third.
Raised 12lb for a Dundalk win last time out, the Sheila Lavery-trained 5-4 favourite Styledome followed-up under Gary Carroll when capturing the Dundalkstadium,com Nurser, coming through strongly down the inside to lead before holding the late surge of Taylored.
Lavery explained: “We weren’t keen on dropping her back in trip, but it was the only nursery for her. A mile is really her trip and she seems to be improving with every run. She deserves a break now and there’s nothing left for her before Christmas.”
Apprentice Cian MacRedmond, back from a stint in England and based with in-form Ado McGuinness, delivered for his new boss when War Hero defied top-weight in the finale, the seven-furlong Follow Us On Twitter @dundalkstadium Handicap.
The tough five-year-old dug deep to see off Tyrconnell and Prisoner’s Dilemma to record his fifth win on the polytrack and his fourth over course and distance.
Dropping back in trip, to a mile, the Andy Oliver-trained Time And Money opened his account in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Leading Jockey & Trainer Handicap.
“The race panned out great for him,” stated winning rider Conor Hoban. “He stuck it out well when he got there. He’s been second a few times, so it should do his confidence the world of good.”
The divisions of the Dundalk Stadium Gift Vouchers Handicap, for maidens, over a mile, provided connections of Neyland and Kudbegood with an overdue breakthrough.
Pat Martin saddled five-year-old mare Neyland (Danny Sheehy) to land the opening division, scoring at the 22nd attempt.
“Her wind is not ideal, so the tongue-tie helps,” stated a delighted Martin.
“This place suits her and getting her settled is key, because it helps her breathe. She has a nice page, so it’s great she’s won.”
An even longer wait ended in the second division when 28-race maiden Kudbegood, from the in-form yard of John McConnell, belatedly opened his account, holding the challenge of favourite Gormanston to give apprentice Siobhan Rutledge her 11th career success.
“The main thing is that he’s paid for himself,” stated owner-trainer James McAuley after £1,500 (€1,682) purchase Swift Wing won the opening claimer over a mile and a half, getting home by head from Royal Admiral in a four-way blanket-finish before surviving a Stewards Enquiry.
“Joey (Sheridan) gave him a peach of a ride,” added McAuley after a race which saw third-placed Dalileo claimed by Rachel O’Neill, to be trained by her father Ronnie.
Sheridan picked-up two careless riding bans on the day, the first following his handling of Swift Wing in the claimer and the second on Majestic Matriarch in a division of the maiden handicap.
He was suspended for three days for each offence.