O’Brien jnr stretches five clear in title race

Joseph O’Brien stretched five clear of Pat Smullen in the title-race when sharing a two-year-old double with his trainer-father Aidan at Dundalk last night.

The teenager brought his domestic tally for the season to 61 by partnering Vinson Massif and Festive Cheer to victory in the opening juvenile maidens the latter, a son of Montjeu, proving an impressive two lengths winner of the seven-furlong bookings@dundalkstadium.com Maiden.

Having tracked the leaders, under a confident ride, Festive Cheer quickened up well to master Made In Design inside the final furlong, prompting the winning rider to comment: “He’s a horse I like. I fancied him the first day, but he was too green. He learned from the experience and he travelled like a dream today. I gave him a couple of flicks to ask him to go about his job and he picked up well.

“He’s a nice prospect. I just hope he’s okay, because he has a nasty cut after another horse galloped into him.”

Earlier, the Giant’s Causeway colt Vinson Massif had to dig deep to get the better of Scrapper Blackwell by a head in the five-furlong maiden. A delighted Joseph O’Brien said: “The ground was too bad for him the first day at the Curragh. But he has always worked well at home.

“He’ll be better over six or seven furlongs. It’s hard to find races for two-year-old at the moment. So we let him take his chance over five and he was good enough to do the job.”

Training honours, however, went to Michal Halford, who completed a superb 1286/1 treble with Grand Heiress, Russian Soul and Zalanga.

Out of luck with the gambled-on Sharp And Smart, runner-up to Garvan Donnelly’s Ningaloo Reef in the first division, Halford saddled first and second in the second division of the seven-furlong Follow Dundalk on Facebook Handicap as Grand Heiress, owned by his wife Louise, bolted up under apprentice Conor Hoban (picked up a one-day careless riding ban), from Red Laser.

Halford and Hoban followed-up when handicap debutant Russian Soul coasted throughout the www.dundalkstadium.com Handicap before beating Brown Butterfly be almost two lengths.

And after Coach Bombay proved an unlucky third for the yard, Shane Foley provided Halford with the third leg of his treble when the Aga Khan-owned Zalanga ran out an emphatic winner of the finale, the Group Discount At Dundalk Maiden, beating Civil War by two-and-a-half lengths.

Chris Hayes, big-race hero at the Curragh on Sunday to crown a magnificent week, registered his 41st success of the campaign when Polly Ella provided in-form trainer Harry Rogers with further success in the second division of this event.


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