The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Median Auction Maiden was the most valuable race on Dundalk’s card and Always Waitin, who was heavily backed to get off the mark at the fourth time of asking, duly obliged, though only just.
Billy Lee sent Willie McCreery’s colt to the front early and controlled the race, but he had to keep going strongly to the line to deny newcomer Dicey Mo Chara by a head.
Illusory found her winning opportunity in the first division of the Irishinjuredjockeys.com Maiden, but it was hard work for Michael Halford’s odds-on favourite. She looked booked for an easy success when turning in, but newcomer Scott Lang produced a sustained effort to challenge in the final furlong. To be fair to the winner, she appeared to dig a little deeper to fend off that rival, which she did by just a short head.
Shane Foley, riding for his former boss, said: “What she lacks in size she makes up for in determination and heart. It wasn’t the strongest race, and we had a nice run around. We had to commit a bit earlier than ideal, but we didn’t go that fast and Ronan (Whelan) told me she keeps going rather than quickens, and she did that, in fairness, and just got lonely in front.”
A quick turnaround and cheekpieces first time were not enough to effect a turnaround in fortunes for Dances With Stars, who was sent off odds-on for the second division. He held every chance but was no match for the Willie Mullins-trained Swift Verdict, who was much sharper this time than when a well-beaten fifth to Bluebeard’s Castle last time. Colin Keane sent him on from two out and he stretched away to an emphatic victory over the 2-5 favourite.
Said Keane: “I rode him in Gowran on slow ground going a mile and six, and I thought that day maybe he didn’t get home with the ground and the trip. He had a nice run here the last day with Oisin (Orr), but just looked a little bit sluggish so they opted for the headgear and it’s duly paid off.
“For such a big horse he handled that surface very well. You could imagine he could be a nice horse for those staying handicaps throughout the summer, and I’m sure he’d jump a hurdle.”
The application of headgear certainly seemed to work a treat for Never Mistabeat, who left previous form behind with a runaway success in the first division of the Crowne Plaza Hotel Dundalk Handicap. Wayne Lordan, riding for Jarlath Fahey, chased the pace set by Sharjah, took it up early in the straight and his mount quickly extended to win by a wide margin from the staying-on Arctic Blaze.
The second division of the same handicap went to Storm Elza, ridden by Luke McAteer for Barry Fitzgerald. After chasing the pace, she picked up nicely and was always holding the effort of Pineapple Express. The runner-up, who was having her first run for Andy Slattery, should ger her turn before long.
Rory and Tom Cleary teamed up to take the Hollywoodbets Horse Racing And Sports Betting Handicap with Dark Magic. Runner-up in three of his five starts since joining this yard, this strong winning performance was thoroughly merited for the game seven-year-old whose career tally is now five wins.
In the first division of the six-furlong handicap, Slade Runner, having his second run for Kieran Cotter, got off the mark for his career at the 16th attempt. The 2-1 favourite made all the running but looked in trouble when Annabelle Rock ranged upside in the closing stages. A ding-dong battle ensued, from which Declan McDonogh’s mount emerged victorious by half a length. Going back up another furlong might aid the winner’s chance of following up.