SWORD FISH, trained by Christy Roche for J P McManus, sprang a mild surprise when popping up at 14-1 in the valuable Supporters’ Club Lartigue Hurdle at Listowel yesterday.
His recent form had been less than impressive, but the Sadler’s Wells gelding was on song here, under a strong Alan Crowe drive.
Leblon edged ahead coming away from the third last, but Sword Fish threw down a determined challenge in the straight.
The winner was in front after two out, but had a good look at the final flight and Leblon was soon back on terms.
But Sword Fish then buckled down well enough to get home by a hard-earned half a length.
McManus’ racing manager, Frank Berry, did the honours and said: “That was a great ride by Alan.
“He’s a tricky horse, who doesn’t do his best every day. We will see where he goes next, but this was his Derby.”
Michael Halford continued his fine run when Defining Year, 5-1 to 7-2, justified the confidence in the Jet O’Carroll Memorial Median Auction Maiden.
Gold Post flattered heading to the furlong pole, but once Gary Carroll asked the winner to quicken the issue was never in doubt.
Said Halford: “He had a good run first time at the Curragh and has come on well. He is a lovely big horse with loads of scope.”
Less than a length covered the first four home at the end of the Listowel Arms Hotel EBF Maiden, indicating it probably wasn’t much of a contest.
Victory went to 20-1 shot Rising Wind, a Kevin Prendergast newcomer by Shirocco, who beat Obligation and Charpoy by a head and the same.
Aidan O’Brien’s Eagle Mountain was all the rage morning-prices and on track, but never promised at any stage.
Dermot Weld struck for the first time this week when Hallie’s Comet shrugged off the steadier of 9-13 to easily win the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Fillies Handicap.
Far from neglected in the market, the daughter of One Cool Cat went off favourite. She led over a furlong down and quickly eased clear to score by four lengths.
Commented Smullen: “She’s a decent filly, when conditions are right, and a good draw is a big help round here.”
Smullen completed a double when guiding Sean Og Coulston to a smooth success in the Brandon Hotel Handicap.
They certainly appeared to go far too fast in front and Smullen waited until he was good and ready before launching his challenge.
Sean Og Coulston did the rest, quickening in style to go clear of Dundrum Dancer. Jim Nash represented trainer, John Coleman, and reported: “His last run at Leopardstown was fabulous and he was entitled to win. We were just a little worried about the dead ground.
“He’s in a Rated race at Fairyhouse on Sunday and, if the ground was to dry out, would have to go for that.”
The Kerry Petroleum Handicap Chase may have been a moderate contest, but it produced a terrific finish.
Ihaventabob and Flying Johnny M engaged in a battle all the way up the straight, which seemed, for the most part, to be going in favour of the latter.
But Davy Russell conjured a desperate last-gasp effort from Ihaventabob and the pair flashed across the line locked together.
The judge called it in favour of Ihaventabob, much to the astonishment of Russell. “I can’t believe it”, he exclaimed.
“When we went past the stands and he heard the roar of the crowd he picked up and just got there in the last stride.”
Noel Meade’s Dilshaan’s Prize, one of the best backed horses of the afternoon, strolled to victory in the Rover Maiden Hurdle.
Freely available at 3-1 in the morning, he was taken from 9-4 to 6-4 on course and this was over once Paul Carberry allowed him lead away from three out.
“He was always going well and did it nicely”, smiled Carberry.
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