Narrowly denied by compatriot Miss Lahar in the race last year, the Rae Guest-trained Minalisa returned to land the listed Yeomanstown & Morristown Lattin Studs Fillies Stakes in Naas last night.
Ridden again by Fran Berry (who became a father for the first time on Tuesday), Minalisa got the better of top-weight Tobann inside the final furlong to triumph by a length and a half with the Eddie Lynam-trained pair Gathering Power and Yulong Baoju close behind in third and fourth.
Guest explained: “Fran said the ridges cost her the race last year. So, when they took them out, we felt we should come back, with the same jockey. It’s great she got her head in front, to get some black type as she’s a very well-bred filly, from the same family as Dick Whittington, and will be kept for breeding.
“I knew she was in good form. Fran gave her a nice, sensible ride and she did it all nicely. She loves summer ground, but it’s difficult to find six-furlong fillies-only races for her. I’m not sure where she’ll go next. She’s entered for the Curragh next month (in both the Phoenix Sprint and Renaissance Stakes) and, if the ground is right, she might come back.”
On a night when her sixteen-year-old brother Donnacha tasted racecourse action for the first time — in the apprentice handicap — Ana O’Brien gave Michaelmas a fine, front-running ride to win the finale, the one-mile Michael Higgins & Co. Race at the expense of Bold Thady Quill and favourite Chance To Dance.
She dictated the pace and gradually wound it up from three furlongs out. Michaelmas responded, quickening well to win by two lengths, prompting proud trainer/father Aidan to comment: “That’s great. He loves fast ground and got the mile well. He might stay a mile and a quarter.”
The market for the opening two-year-old maiden was dominated by Johnny Murtagh’s Kasbah and Ballydoyle filly Simply A Star. The pair showed plenty of speed in the five-furlong contest but, ultimately, were blow away by the Ger Lyons-trained debutante Ainippe, ridden by Colin Keane, which stretched clear late to triumph by almost four lengths.
“She’s our first horse for Robert Sinclair,” explained Shane Lyons. “We only have her a short time and we brought her here for a day out, with a view to the future. It’s super that she’s won. It was a professional performance and she should improve a lot. Colin said she could stick to five furlongs and we’ll looks for some black type for her.”
The formidable Lyons/Keane partnership struck again when Vector Force 11/10 favourite captured the Naas racecourse On Facebook Handicap, completing a fine stable double in emphatic style.
Always travelling strongly, he mastered front-running Strait Of Zanzibar with more than two furlongs to race and ran on to beat Captain Cullen by two lengths. Shane Lyons said: “That’s job done. He came on a little from his run here the last day and we felt a reproduction of that would be enough. Colin said it was very straight-forward and that he’ll get a bit further than a mile.”
Pat Martin’s consistent, 79-rated four-year-old Red All Star belatedly got off the mark in the six-furlong Kildare Post Maiden, setting a strong pace under apprentice Conor Hoban and keeping Insearchofadream at bay by a length.
Martin, who plans going for a six-and-a-half furlong handicap at Sligo with the Haateef gelding, admitted: “I was worried about running him again on such fast ground. But he deserved to get his head in front.”
Seven-year-old Almadaa, described by his trainer David Marnane as “a grand old servant” swooped late to deny 25/1 shot Kimbay by a head in the six-furlong ISS Recruitment & Training Handicap. The winner, which is likely to head for a seven-furlong handicap at Galway on Tuesday, was ridden by champion apprentice Connor King.
Apprentice Sean Corby notched his first success on his local track when bringing Ken Condon’s Millington with a steady well-timed challenge to land the one-mile apprentice handicap.
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