Odds-on favourite Highland Reel provided Aidan O’Brien with his tenth winner in five days when bolting up in the opening two-year maiden in Gowran Park last evening, undoubtedly the best performance on the card.
Runner-up to Tombelaine on his debut at Leopardstown, the Galileo colt edged ahead early in the straight and was soon clear. Idling in front, he was given a couple of back-handers by Joseph O’Brien and powered clear to slam Taqaseem by twelve lengths.
Joseph stated: “He’s a lovely horse. They died in front and I got to the front a bit soon. He had a look at the gap, so I gave him a belt to straighten him out. And he picked up well. He should be able to step up in class.”
The Ballydoyle team was denied a double when Red Rocks Point, unbeaten in his two previous starts, went down by a neck to Eighteen Summers in the featured Sweet Sundays Racing & Dining Handicap.
In a strongly-run race, Eighteen Summers, which Eddie Lynam trains for his wife Aileen, battled tenaciously to grab the spoil, prompting winning rider Wayne Lordan to comment: “Eddie’s horses are in great form and this fellow is tough and genuine. He kept picking-up for me and loves that fast ground.”
Lordan completed a double in the concluding fillies maiden when 11/8 favourite Leaf, fifth to Carla Biana on her debut in Navan, ran out an emphatic winner for the David Wachman yard.
The Montjeu filly quickened clear in good style to score by almost four lengths.
It was a night to remember for the season’s leading apprentice, Colin Keane, who lost his claim thanks to a double on Angel Of Joy and Artistic Intergrity, both trained by his boss Ger Lyons, which brought his tally for the season to 25.
Angel Of Joy, in the colours of his breeder John Quinn, made all and kept going well in the straight to beat market rival Muileata by two and threequarter lengths in the Go Racing In The South East Maiden, prompting his trainer to explain: “We tried cheekpieces because we felt he pulled up a bit in Roscommon the last day. He’ll go handicapping and we should have some fun with him.”
Keane, appointed stable-jockey last month, employed similar front-running tactics on Artistic Integirty in the seven-furlong, the 2/1 favourite staying on strongly to beat Right First by three lengths.
Lyons said: “That’s the claim gone and I’m delighted for Colin. I thought this horse was all speed, but he was badly outpaced the last day in Cork. He needed the step up in trip and, all being well, he’ll run again in Leopardstown on Thursday.”
A failed gamble in Navan last time, the Dermot Weld-trained Wildcat Kitten recouped some of the losses when justifying 5/4 favouritism in the Gowran Park Gold Club Handicap.
The three-year-old gelding, owned by Kenneth Ramsey, which saw off Caliso Bay by more than two lengths, is declared again for tonight’s finale in Fairyhouse.
County Wicklow trainer Johnny Hagen won the apprentice handicap with 12/1 shot Badger Daly, which gave Ross Coakley his third winner in a week with a clear-cut victory.
The eight-year-old, whose only previous win came at Dundalk, poached a clear early lead and was never threatened, coming home ten lengths clear of Gold Falcon.
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