Light Heavy’s tenacious victory in the Follow Leopardstown On Facebook Race proved the highlight of a 118/1 double for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning on a successful Spin 103.8 Student Race Day in sunny Leopardstown last evening.
The once-raced Teofilo colt, runner-up in a Navan maiden in his only outing last year, looked in trouble turning for home in the one-mile contest but, after the Aidan O’Brien-trained favourite Furner’s Green quickened on the outside to edge ahead approaching the furlong-pole, Light Heavy responded to Manning’s urgings to earn the spoils by a half-length.
“A mile is a minimum for him and he’ll be stepping-up in trip the next day,” said winning trainer Bolger. “He likes that ground and should continue improving throughout the year. We’ll know more when he races over a mile and a half.”
Bolger indicated that Light Heavy is likely to contest one of the upcoming Derby trials, probably the Ballysax Stakes, back at Leopardstown, on April 15.
There was a sting in the tail for winning rider Manning, who was suspended for two day for careless riding on the winner.
Vastitas (16/1), which belatedly opened her account in a Roscommon maiden last June, completed the Bolger/Manning double when making virtually all of the running to beat Olfa by a length and a half in the seven-furlong Intervarsity Challenge Handicap.
“Little fish are sweet,” stated Bolger afterwards. “She’s nice and sweet at the moment and we’ll try to run her again soon. She didn’t like the sand in Dundalk but handled nearly any ground, except very firm.” Like Light Heavy, Vastitas carries the colours of Bolger’s wife Jackie.
“The Blue Wind at Naas would look the logical progression for her,” commented Dermot Weld after saddling Princess Highway (2/1 favourite) to land the opening ten-furlong fillies maiden at the expense of Ballydoyle debutante and longtime leader Betterbetterbetter.
Pat Smullen settled the Street Cry filly behind the eventual runner-up from the start, eased alongside turning for home and, always looking likely to take command, went on to score by a length and three-quarters.
Weld said: “That was a nice performance. It was a pretty good maiden and they went a decent gallop. It was a true-run race and she quickened up nicely. She’s a lovely individual, a firm ground filly and will run in the Group 3 (Blue Wind) at Naas next month. Her dam (Irresistible Jewel) won the Ribblesdale for us and, hopefully, this filly will develop into a stakes performer.”
The colts’ maiden, also run at a strong pace, also went to the favourite, the Kevin Prendergast-trained Azamata, which got up in the dying strides under a determined Declan McDonogh to deny the Kevin Manning-ridden Dynamite Dixie.
Places in his two runs as a juvenile, Azamata was described as “a nice staying type” by his trainer, who added: “He just keeps galloping and will appreciate stepping-up to a mile and a half. The ground is probably a little faster than he’d like. But I knew he was fairly straight and we expected him to run a big race. He might come back here for one of the Derby trials.”
Aidan O’Brien, present to see the maiden action, had headed home before Robin Hood, enterprisingly ridden by Joseph, provided Ballydoyle with its first winner of the new season in the Spin 103.8 Handicap.
Off the track since September 2010, the four-year-old Galileo colt, blinkered for the first time, made every yard of the running, stretching into a clear lead at halfway and stayed on to beat Rising Wind by three lengths.
Robin Hood, gambled-on from 9/2 to 100/30, was described as “a nice, genuine colt” by Joseph O’Brien, who added: “He got into a nice rhythm and stayed going.”
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