Silver Concorde earned a last-gasp victory in the €100,000 Tote November Handicap, the first leg of a double for trainer Dermot Weld on the final day of the 2015 Flat season at Leopardstown.
Rejected by Pat Smullen, who chose to ride Zafayan, Silver Concorde was partnered by Smullen’s understudy Leigh Roche and got up in the dying strides to beat British raider and Irish Cesarewitch runner-up Guard Of Honour by a half-length in a blanket-finish.
Weld stated: “This is always a tough race and he only got there on the line. I think we have one happy jockey and one unhappy jockey. This horse ran a good race in the Irish Cesarewitch, but there was no gallop, which didn’t suit him.”
While Roche paid tribute to the advice about the horse he received from Robbie McNamara, Weld added: “He’s a Grade One Cheltenham winner. He won the Champion Bumper and jumps super. He has experience at Grade One level over hurdles. And he’ll reappear in a maiden hurdle here at Christmas.”
Smullen was crowed champion-jockey for the eighth time and provided a fitting finale to the season when landing the concluding maiden on the frustrating filly Chinese Light, who beat Perfect Fit by a head.
“She’s an exceptionally well-bred filly and it was important to get a winning bracket with her before she’s retired,” said Weld.
Jockeys Kevin Manning and Chris Hayes recorded last day doubles, each including a listed success in his haul.
Manning partnered Moonlight Magic to victory in the Eyrefield 2-Y-0 Stakes, having initiated the double for Jim Bolger and Godolphin on Theodorico in the nursery while Hayes doubled up on two-year-old Awtaad for his boss Kevin Prendergast and the Dandy Nicholls-trained Sovereign Debt in the Knockaire Stakes.
“He’s a good horse,” declared Bolger after Moonlight Magic’s defeat of Landofhopeandglory.
“He was a little bit backward and, when he won in Cork, he idled when he hit the front. But he should improve.
“I hope to be back here with him for the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial.”
Paddy Power cut Moonlight Magic to 20/1 (from 33) for the 2016 Investec Derby.
Bolger also nominated an early-season Derby trial as a likely target for Theodorico in the wake of his hard-earned victory in the seven-furlong nursery. The even-money favourite had to be hard-ridden by Manning to hold Orangey Red by a half-length.
Bolger said: “He was probably well-handicapped, but seven furlongs is a minimum for him. He’ll go on any ground and the next time you see him will be in a Derby trial.”
Sovereign Debt registered his third win in Ireland this season when capturing the Knockaire Stakes at the expense of Iveagh Gardens whose rider Fran Berry picked-up a two-day careless riding ban.
“You couldn’t but be impress by him. He’s a smashing horse,” stated Hayes, “he was giving weight away over an inadequate trip and the ground isn’t ideal. But Dandy and his team have done a great job with him all year. And it was important to get a lead for him today. I knew he’d keep going. I’d say Dandy will give him a break now and get him ready for the Winter Series in England again.”
Hayes was also successful on 11/8 favourite Awtaad in the two-year-old colts maiden, Kevin Prendergast’s charge fulfilling the promise of his debut at the Curragh to beat newcomer Bravery.
“I think he could be a Group horse,” said Prendergast. “He has plenty of pace and we’ll see how he gets on in a Guineas trial and take it from there.”
Aidan O’Brien will have similar stakes-level hopes for Pretty Perfect, which made all under his daughter Ana to win the two-year-old fillies maiden.
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