Putin strikes to give McEntee dream return

Trainer Phil McEntee, now based in Newmarket, made a successful and emotional return to Laytown yesterday when Putin won the opening Download The At The Races App Handicap.

Another huge crowd attended this unique meeting on the beach and McEntee savoured the success of the Billy Lee-ridden Putin, which got the better of Kiss The Stars in a driving finish.

“This is very emotional,” said McEntee. “My dad was from Julianstown, which is only a few miles down the road, and is buried three miles from here. I used to come here on my summer holidays as a kid. I used to run up the beach, pretending I was a jockey. I’ve always dreamed of having a winner here. I rode here for my dad in 1985 and I haven’t been back for a while. This must rank as one of my favourite winners of all time.”

It was also a day to remember for trainer Georgios Pakidis, who completed a fine double with Papabili and Our Max, his first runners at Laytown.

“I’ve had a hard time with both horses,” stated Pakidis after Patrick Mullins partnered Our Max to victory in the concluding Hibernia Steel (Amateur) Race, holding off the late challenge of favourite Usa and Nina Carberry.

Our Max (100/30) was recording his second win on the beach, having won a maiden for Pat Martin at this meeting last year.

The winning rider confirmed, “It was my first ride for the trainer. He told me before I went out that he’d win - and he was right.”

Pakidis felt “Papabili has the ability to go to a higher level”, in the wake of his defeat of well-backed Tubeanie and favourite War Anthem in the Gilna’s Cottage Inn Maiden. “He has had a number of little problems and a virus,” added Pakidis.

Papabili, a first winner at Laytown for apprentice Sean Corby, was also the first leg of a double for owner Patrick McCann, who provided the Naas man with his breakthrough success.

Favourite Acroleina provided Harry Rogers with a milestone success when proving an emphatic winner, under Shane Foley, in the Balmarino Handicap. The four-year-old filly was a first winner at this track for the Ardee-based trainer, who has now saddled a winner at all of Ireland’s racecourses.

Rogers said: “I only have her two months and she had run well for Jane Foley. She’s been unlucky in her last few runs, particularly the last day in Naas. Dundalk will be the job for her during the winter.”

Successful at Dundalk last Sunday, Strait Of Zanzibar gave the husband-and-wife combination of Ken and Pauline Condon a memorable success when defying top-weight in the O’Neills Sports (Amateur) Handicap.

The six-year-old won impressively from Cheers Buddy, prompting his trainer to comment: “This is great — Pauline hasn’t ridden for a long time — she has enough one her plate with the two little ones running around at home.

“Her last winner [Dream Applause] was here three years ago, but she’s as keen and enthusiastic as ever and rides out most mornings.

“This horse is tough and consistent and, hopefully, the handicapper won’t be too hard on him.”

A key member of Aidan O’Brien’s team in Ballydoyle, Chris Geoghegan gets few opportunities on the track, but improved his already-impressive strike-rate at Laytown when partnering Bussa to victory over Tithonus in the Marquees Nationwide Claiming Race.

Bussa is trained by Emmet Butterly, a good friend of Geoghegan, who is due to get married next week and explained: “I train this horse on the beach [in Co Donegal] and he has two ways of running, one on the beach and the other on the track. So, we took a chance coming here, that he’d show what he can do.”

Three of the runners were claimed, with the winner being taken by Tom Quinn and set to join Steve Mahon.


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