Kevin Prendergast, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, has clearly lost none of the magic and was on the mark at Galway last night when Vastonea landed the featured Topaz Mile.
Powerfully handled by Declan McDonogh, the grey son of Verglas swept through late to deprive English challenger, Kevin Ryan’s Pintura.
Always prominent, Pintura set sail for the judge for Joseph O’Brien off the home turn and looked the most likely winner.
Vastonea had a bit to do in third spot, but once McDonogh switched out to challenge he was always going to get there and was a snug half a length to the good at the line.
Prendergast didn’t make the journey west, but McDonogh said: “Vastonea was unlucky at Leopardstown last week (finished second), but that was probably a blessing in disguise.
“He was able to hold his position and stayed on. The boss will be gloating at the top of the Old Vic (Curragh) gallop with Mr Weld next week, he loves to win this race. I won this before (Eklim, 2003) and it is great to win it again.”
It was Prendergast’s third success in ten years and his fifth overall.
Weld made it four for the week when Voleuse De Coeurs ran away with the two-mile Topaz Handicap to the tune of eight lengths.
In doing so the daughter of Teolfilo, backed from 6-1 to 9-2, became the first winning favourite of the week.
Truth to tell, she scored doing handstands, cantering ahead two furlongs down and then sprinting clear to beat Domination.
“My concern was the ground, but she got a lovely ride from Pat (Smullen) and had it won a long way out,” related Weld. “She has always given the impression would stay beyond a mile and a half. The plan, from the 19 draw, was for Pat to take his time, to switch her off, and there is no one better at that than him.”
Weld was out of luck, however, when his well-regarded sister to Famous Name, Big Break, got no sort of run in the caulfieldindustrial.com EBF Fillies Maiden.
She was locked away for much of the trip and was hampered when trying to get in a blow on the up hill run to the straight.
In the meantime, her main market rival, Magical Dream, was always in pole position, shot on turning in and was never going to be closed down. Partnered by Joseph O’Brien, it was a first of the week for his father, Aidan.
Ado McGuinness was loud in his praise of David Splaine after he had piloted Face Value to victory in the Topaz Novice Hurdle.
“He’s a very good young rider and has a show-jumping background which I like,” remarked McGuinness.
Face Value was none to clever over the last, but picked up in fine style and was far too strong for Zuzka on the run in.
“He handled the soft really well at Ballinrobe and I decided to give it a go,” continued McGuinness.
“I don’t know where he will go next. He’s in here on Friday night, but will probably have a break.”
Andrew McNamara, who rode third placed He’s Out Man, was found guilty of careless riding and suspended for two days.
Peter Fahey’s Pride Of The Arctic, winner of a beginners chase at Down Royal previously, put up a decent performance to take the Latin Quarter Chase.
He was meeting a number of rivals who had more to recommend them, at least in theory, but seemed to revel in the ground and treated the opposition with disdain.
Confidently handled by Andrew Leigh, Pride Of The Arctic made most of the running, surging clear to beat Supreme Doc by five and a half lengths.
Commented Fahey: “He’s a lovely horse and better over fences than hurdles. I haven’t a clue where he’ll go next. A lot of work has gone into him, because he isn’t the most sound.”
Golden Shoe, trained by Jim Gorman and nibbled at from 8-1 to 13-2, duly delivered in the Caulfield Industrial Athlone Handicap.
Crystal Morning made a brave attempt from the front, but Chris Hayes rode a whirlwind finish to force Golden Shoe up close home and win by a head.
Kevin Prendergast and Declan McDonogh completed a double with Maude Adams in the last, a maiden for three-year-olds.
Maude Adams had been most frustrating, but this was a weak contest and she put her best foot forward to hold the late rush of September Lily.
The attendance was 14,058, down from 17,510 last year.
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