Controversy raged at Killarney last night after Positive Vibes beat Shalaman a head in the International Hotel Apprentice Handicap and then lost the race in the stewards’ room.
Shalaman tried for a gap between Castle Guest and Positive Vibes with over a hundred yards to go, but it closed almost immediately - if it was ever there in the first place - and he had to be switched to launch another challenge.
Positive Vibes then hung a trifle towards Shalaman in the closing stages, but there was no contact and that made no difference at all to the eventual result.
In the first incident, Positive Vibes went with the natural turn of the racecourse and, to my eyes, it could be best referred to as proper race riding on the part of Ronan Whelan.
You could argue that Shalaman was essentially going for a non-existent gap - or certainly one that wasn’t there for very long. Basically, he largely made his own trouble.
The stewards took an entirely different view and reversed the placings. To say the least of it that was a major surprise - nay this was astonishing - and it will be an even bigger surprise should the connections of Positive Vibes not appeal the outcome.
Charlie Swan’s somewhat enigmatic Prince Of Fire came back to his best to take the Racing Post Handicap Chase.
Given a brilliant drive by David Casey, he exploded away from the back of the last to run clear of the flattering favourite, Absolutlyfantsastic.
“He surprised me’’, exclaimed Swan. “He ran so badly at Bellewstown that I wasn’t even going to run him here. He never jumps well, but jumped nearly every fence right tonight.”
Bookmakers began their evening with a screamer when Kevin Prendergast’s 20-1 shot, Greeneyed Monster beat Aidan O’Brien’s Bluebell by a short head in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Median Auction Maiden.
The pair had a real battle through the final furlong, which was always just about going in favour of Chris Hayes’ mount.
Commented Hayes: “The boss said to ride him with plenty of confidence and it paid off. He came on a good bit from his first run.”
You could argue that Connor King’s tactics won the O’Keeffe’s Marquee Hire Rathmore Handicap for Maundy Money.
David Marnane’s gelding went into the final bend with a number of horses ahead of him, got a dream run up the inside and came out of it a couple of lengths in front.
After that it was essentially plain sailing, as the ten-year-old kept going to beat Slim Chance.
Said Marnane: “He’s a legend (Maundy Money) and will now go to Galway for the sixth year in-a-row.”
Golden Palm, nicely supported in the market, got the full Barry Geraghty treatment to wear down Andreas Pride and take the Bourn Vincent Memorial Mares’ Maiden Hurdle.
The daughter of Broadway Flyer is trained in Wexford by Sean Doyle, who has held a licence for two years, has just three horses in his care and was enjoying a fifth success on the track.
Said Doyle: “She had a good run at Bellewstown (fourth), we were just afraid this might come a bit soon.”
Peter Fahey’s Frontline went off a strong favourite for the Bumper and duly justified the confidence.
But it took all of Katie Walsh’s considerable strength to ensure the money didn’t stay deep in the satchels, after she drove him for all she was worth to finally get on top with less than a furlong to go.
Fahey indicated that his charge would have a break now and come back hurdling, if not sold in the meantime.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved