Roman Impero, middle leg of a treble for trainer Michael Halford, and the Jim Bolger-trained Mandatario booked their tickets to the All-Weather Championships in Lingfield Park on Good Friday when winning their respective Fast Track Qualifiers in Dundalk last night.
Winner of a course and distance maiden last time, Roman Impero quickened up nicely to see off the Mark Johnston-trained odds-on favourite Turbine by a length and a quarter in the seven-furlong 32Red Casino 3-Y-0 Race.
Michael Halford, who trains the Holy Roman Emperor colt for Eric Koh, commented: “He’s an improving colt with a great attitude. He’s still a small bit green and lazy at home, so there’s more to come from him. But it was a good performance on the night.
“He’ll step-up to a mile (the distance of his Championship target next month), no problem.
“His owner is from Singapore and is a sportsman, so I’d say we’ll be travelling to Lingfield.”
The talented but quirky Russian Soul came from the back of the field and finished with a flourish to land the six-furlong Weatherbys General Stud Book Handicap at the expense of Togoville and the flattering Split The Atom, first leg of a double for jockey Conor Hoban and the trainer’s treble.
Halford explained: “He’s a bit of a character, as we saw going to the start. But I don’t mind that carry-on, if he comes back quickly. In fairness, the handicapper gave him a chance and he likes it around here (this was his fifth win on the polytrack).
“He retains some of his old spark and Conor knows him. I’d say the fast pace suited him.
“I was half-thinking of aiming him at the sprint on Good Friday in Lingfield and I might bring him back for a seven-furlong race next week if I’m trying to get him qualified.”
Halford’s treble was completed when Tamasek Star (Conor McGovern) prevailed by a short-head over My Manekineko in the finale, the Irishinjuredjockeys.com Handicap.
“Conor is great value for the 7lb. claim and this is a fierce genuine horse,” said Halford. “The horse is all heart and doesn’t want to get beaten in a finish. He appreciates the mile and a half. It’s a great finish to another great night here.”
Kevin Manning brought the Jim Bolger-trained 15/8 favourite Mandatario, tackling two miles for the first time, from last to first to readily outpoint market rival Shalaman in the 32Red.com Race, the Fast Track Qualifier for the stayers event in Lingfield, scoring by a length and a quarter.
Manning explained: “We’ve always liked him and he had some good runs. He settled and got the trip well. He had too much pace for those horses. The trip wasn’t an issue.”
The Bolger/Manning partnership struck again in the Big Bad Bib Fillies Maiden as 2/1 favourite Bridle Path (rated 62) came from well off the pace to lead close home and beat debutante Lunada by a length.
The winning rider explained: “I was drawn wide (eleven) and they jumped and went very, very quick so I had to take her back, get a position and hope they’d come back – and they did. But when I pulled out, she picked up nicely.
“Its’ great to get a win with such a well-bred filly.”
Strategic Heights, strongly-handled by Gary Halpin, got up on the line to pip 50/1 shot Rattling Jewel by a nose in the five-furlong www.dundalkstadium Handicap, justifying 11/4 favouritism and recording his fifth success over course and distance.
“Gary gave him a fabulous ride – he was very strong on him and his 5lb. is a huge asset,” stated delighted and relieved trainer Johnny Feane. “I watched it from my usual spot, at the furlong-pole, and he wasn’t doing a stroke. But the judge says he got there and that’s all that matters.
“There’s another five-furlong handicap here in two weeks. We’ll probably try him in blinkers, to get another bit out of him – he’s getting older and cuter.”
Apprentice Danny Redmond produced the Peter Casey-trained top-weight and favourite Rose Angel with a perfectly-timed challenge to capture the Weatherbys Printing Handicap in emphatic style by a length and three-quarters from Tom Dooley, the mare’s fourth win over course and distance and her first success since November 2014.
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