On a night when trainer Tony Mullins and his jockey-son Danny shared a 98/1 double, it was the Willie Mullins-trained mare Glens Melody which proved the equine star in Sligo, landing the concluding Cleveragh Flat Race in emphatic style.
Impressive winner of a mares’ event at the Punchestown Festival, Glens Melody, which carries the colours of owner-breeder Fiona McStay, confirmed the impression created on her debut, edging past front-running Glazier with more than two furlongs to race and staying on well up the straight to keep market rival and course and distance winner Cullentry Royal at bay by two and a quarter lengths, with George Fernbeck third.
Winning trainer Mullins was not present but his son Patrick, who put up 2lb. overweight on the King’s Theatre mare, commented: “She’s a lovely mare, the best bumper mare I’ve ridden this year.
“She’s a half-sister to Ceol Rua, which won a listed race over hurdles. I’ll be surprised if she’s not as good, and might even be better. I’d say she’ll go for a maiden hurdle now.”
Sizing Italy, trained by Jim Dreaper, carried the familiar colours of Alan and Ann Potts to victory in the opening Sunday 15th July Family Day At Sligo Maiden Hurdle, Andrew Lynch’s mount racing prominently throughout and staying on too strongly for Sonapour on the long run-in.
“Little fish are sweet,” said Dreaper. “He’s a nice horse and ran in two pretty good bumpers, won by Champagne Fever and Venture Capital.
“His owners like to have chasers and this horse won’t delay long over hurdles. He’ll probably run in a novice hurdle before having a break, but not on fast ground. He likes nice ground, but not fast.”
Andrew Lynch went on to complete a double when the Paul Gilligan-trained top-weight Roving Lad, successful at Limerick on Sunday, followed-up at the expense of longtime leader Young Milly.
Owned by Galway doctor Anthony Browne, currently in Valencia in Spain, Roving Lad defied the welter burden of 12-3, which included a 6lb.mandatory penalty for Sunday’s win.
Gilligan conceded: “I suppose I would have been crazy not to run him. He’s won two now in a couple of days, so we’ll leave him for a while.
“It was probably a big ask under that sort of weight, in only his second handicap.”
There was a tragic post-script to the June 19th At Sligo Mares Maiden Hurdle in which 9/4 favourite Lough Donnell Mist powered clear on the run-in to slam Theonewiththeleg by ten lengths before collapsing and dying on her way back to the enclosure.
The eight-year-old Presenting mare, ridden by Danny Howard for Malachy Hassett, was building on a solid third to Oscara Dara at the Punchestown Festival.
The Tony Mullins-trained Battling Boru, owned by the Shoot A Hoop Syndicate from Athlone, landed a nice touch (14/1 to 8/1) in the Sean Graham Bookmakers Handicap Hurdle, initiating a double for the trainer and his jockey son Danny.
The Brian Boru gelding swooped late to foil Churchfield Champ, which had looked an assured winner when stretching clear between the last two flights. Two lengths separated the pair at the line.
Trainer Mullins admitted: “I thought it was a weakish race and fancied him well. He’s a fair horse off that sort of mark and will probably go for another handicap hurdle. He’ll go chasing before the end of the summer.”
He added: “He’s a slow maturer and it took me a good while to get to know him. But he’s not a bad horse and will probably run again in three or four weeks.”
Clarach completed the Mullins double when pouncing on the run-in to beat Rising Time and Cnos Seoda in the featured Corner House Bar Ballymote Mares Handicap Hurdle.
Ridden with confidence and patience, the Beneficial mare was registering her second win over hurdles for the Castelbar Syndicate and her delighted trainer declared: “She’s a grand mare and has been dead reliable all her life, although I was a bit worried about the ground.
“That’s the second mares’ race she’s won and we might have a look at the Galway Hurdle now. I think she’s entitled to have a crack at a big pot like it. She’ll probably take in a flat race on the way there.
The firstname.lastname@example.org Opportunity Maiden Hurdle went to Curragh Golan, representing another father-and-son combination, trainer Mick and rider Mikey Butler.
The Golan gelding got the better of Sliabh Glath by a neck after a protracted battle.
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