TRAINER Ger Lyons took the training honours on the beach at Laytown yesterday, completing a double with Cosmic Breeze and Dunne Grand.
Lyons was expected to win the www.angloprinters.ie Claiming Race with well-treated Romeo’s On Fire, which was sent off 9/4 favourite under Johnny Murtagh, paying his first visit to Laytown in four years and hoping for a first win at this unique venue.
The favourite went close, but failed narrowly in a three-way photo-finish, behind his Keagan Latham ridden stable-companion Cosmic Breeze.
A delighted Ger Lyons commented: “It’s been a quiet season for us, because we sold a lot of horses and just didn’t have the same ammunition this year. But it’s good to get to the twenty-winner mark and, hopefully, we can push on from here and get to thirty by the end, in Dundalk. Little fish are sweet and every winner counts.”
The Lyons double was completed when Dunne Grand, unlucky at the Curragh last time, made virtually all the running under Andrew Duff to land the Hibernia Steel (Amateur) Race emphatically by four and a half lengths from top-weight Academic Accolade.
The winning trainer expressed his delight at providing Duff with a winner. “Andy has been working for me for six years and is an important part of the team, a great worker. This horse is just a handicapper, but it’s good to win with her. She’ll be heading for Dundalk now.”
Former champion Pat Smullen consolidated his lead in the battle to regain the title when brining the Dermot Weld trained favourite Northern Rocked with a strong late surge to foil the flattering Prayer Boat in the Gilna’s Cottage Inn Maiden.
Runner-up four times in his career, Northern Rocked appeared to be struggling to get to his Joseph O’Brien ridden rival, but swept past John Murphy’s charge in the last hundred yards to triumph by a length and a quarter.
Smullen said: “He’s a solid, consistent horse and has run well in a few handicaps. So he deserved a change of luck. He stays seven furlongs well, so the fast pace suited him. Although Joseph’s horse got first run, I always expected to get to him.”
David Marnane continued in top form when saddling first and second in the Ladbrokes,com (Amateur) Handicap, victory going to the Robbie McNamara-ridden He’s Got Rhythm at the expense of Qadar (Katie Walsh).
“He’s a grand, tough horse and Robbie gave him a great ride,” said Marnane. “He went up for his win in Roscommon and won well today. So he’s going the right way. I’d love to bring him back here next year.”
Michael Browne, who trains a small string in Cashel, County Tipperary (his Kenton Street was third in the opener) enjoyed a welcome success when Under Review sprang a 20/1 shock in the O’Neills Sports Handicap.
Browne said of the Seamus Heffernan ridden winner. “He’s a super little horse and has been a bit unlucky a couple of times, including the last day, when he missed the break in Sligo. I tried a tongue-tie today and he seemed more relaxed in himself.
“I only have three horses. I own them and ride them out myself so every winner is to be enjoyed.”
Shane Duffy, who worked for Christy Roche for eight years and is now based in Errill, County Laois, saddled his first winner under rules when Hello Man won the opening Balmarino Handicap at the expense of Mt. Weather.
Duffy, whose father Paddy worked with Paddy Prendergast and then Michael Halford trains thirteen horses, most of them point-to-pointers and was providing champion apprentice Gary Carroll with his first winner at Laytown.
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