The Michael Halford-trained Zarib emerged as the best prospect on show in Dundalk last night, the Declan McDonogh-ridden colt proving an emphatic winner of the Irish Stallion Farms Median Auction 2-Y-0 Maiden over a mile.
A strapping son of Azamour, Zarib has improved with each run and overcame a high draw to get the better of favourite Vector Force by a length.
Halford, who trains the colt for the Aga Khan, commented: “He did it well from a bad draw. Declan had to roust him along to be handy, but he stays well and is improving with every run. He has lots of scope and size and has enough done. He should make a lovely, staying three-year-old.”
Lord Kenmare, whose only wins have been recorded at Dundalk, completed a double for Halford when coming through under Shane Foley to lead inside the final furlong and land a division of the Christmas Party Nights At Dundalk Stadium Handicap.
The trainer said: “He loves a fast pace and things fell into place for him. He was back to a winnable mark and will run again on Wednesday.”
It was a night to remember for apprentice Robbie Downey (17), from Kilcock, County Kildare, who doubled his career-tally with a double on Lady Mega and Rose Angel and, in doing so, had his claim reduced from 10lb. to 7lb.
Downey got up in the last stride on Lady Mega, trained by his boss Eddie Lynam, to pip Have A Great Day by a nose in the opening two-year-old maiden while Rose Angel, having looked set for a clear-cut win in a division of the one-mile 47-65 handicap, hung on to beat the fast-finishing Whitethorn Scent by a head.
Francis Casey, son of winning trainer Peter, said: “She an honest filly and is in two races here on Wednesday. If she’s okay, she’ll be back and will probably stay at a mile.”
Also in double form was another apprentice Ronan Whelan, who made all to triumph on the John Joe Walsh-trained Longfield Lad in a division of the six-furlong Crowne Plaza Handicap and Pat Shanahan’s That’s Plenty in the finale, the Floodlit Friday Nights Handicap.
Shanahan said of his winner: “He’s improving, stays well and enjoys the game. He’ll probably come back here, or he could head back to Wolverhampton (where has won twice), for one of the big-money races.”
The Gordon Elliott-trained High Net Worth (7/4 favourite) coasted to a smooth, if belated, win in the Follow Dundalk On Facebook Maiden, prompting his rider Emmet McNamara to comment: “We were forcing him over seven furlongs and he seemed much happier over the longer trip. It was probably a poor enough maiden, but he won well.” The trainer’s brother Joey indicated that High Net Worth is likely to return to hurdling.
Owner-trainer Michael Browne declared: “He’s a very good horse on his day and the key to him is breaking — he broke well today and everything went right for him,” after Under Review (Wayne Lordan) powered to a three lengths win in a division of the six-furlong handicap.
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