An enterprising, front-running ride by Brian Cawley saw the versatile Rodriguez land the featured Leo Dolan Memorial Handicap Hurdle at Roscommon last night.
The seven-year-old, unplaced on the flat at Bellewstown on Friday, dictated the pace, followed throughout by The Lady Granuaile and galloped on resolutely at the end of the three mile contest to triumph by four lengths.
Rodriguez is trained by Charlie Swan, who enthused: “He’s better in a low-grade race with a big weight than in a better race with a low weight. And he loves that hard ground.
“He’ll probably go back over fences now, in either Killarney or Galway, once the ground is fast.”
Both bumpers provided notable firsts as James Dowling and trainer Jonathan Sweeney, from Rathcormack, Co Cork, each savoured their initial successes.
Kilkenny man Dowling admits to riding out “on and off” for Jim Bolger for 14 years and brought Pack The Punch with sustained challenge to outstay favourite That’s Nice in the two-and-a-half mile roscommonracecourse.ie Flat Race.
Pack The Punch was continuing the successful run of trainer Dessie McDonogh with horses owned by Jim and Jackie Bolger.
The lady rider’s bumper went to the Jonathan Sweeney trained Barnahash Rose, which came from well off the pace under a determined Jane Mangan to foil Pace And Passion and Ardkilly Vixen in a blanket-finish.
“That's my first winner on the track,” said Corkman Sweeney. “She’s tough, stays and jumps very well. And Jane knows her well. I was a bit worried about the fast ground and, hopefully, she’ll be okay in the morning.”
A big disappointment in Ballinrobe last time, Elsie produced a far better display to land the four-runner Easyfix Rubber Products Rated Novice Hurdle easily in the hands of Paul Townend, coasting home five and a half lengths clear of favourite Dancing Roe.
" “I knew she’d handle that fast ground and she’ll probably head for Galway next,” said Tom Mullins.
Voluptueux “a bit clumsy” in some of his previous hurdle outings, according to his trainer Philip Fenton, justified 7/4 favouritism under Brian O’Connell in the opening Athleague Maiden Hurdle, sweeping past Mizyen at the second last before stretching clear to slam Steel King by eight and a half lengths.
Up The Hill, bred, owned and trained by John Nicholson, captured the Martinstown Opportunity Maiden Hurdle under a positive ride by Kevin Sexton.
And Sexton completed a double when He Is Top Class gave Co Clare handler Donie Hassett his first racecourse success since September, staying on dourly to beat top weight Bank The Bucks by a half-length in the White Transport Handicap Hurdle.
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