Two-year-olds Zorion and Sweet Sounds proved the stars of last night’s flat action in sun-kissed Roscommon.
Debutant Zorion impressed for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning when bolting-up in the opening maiden while the Ger Lyons-trained Sweet Sounds, a smooth winner on her debut in Tipperary, followed up when landing the Irish Stallion Farms 2-Y-0 Auction Race in emphatic style.
Sent off 4/7 favourite (in the absence of Mack Attack), Zorion raced close to the pace in the opener and had to be shaken-up by Kevin Manning to edge ahead with a furlong and a half to race but, having taken time to hit top gear, forged clear impressively inside the final furlong to score by six and a half lengths from 50/1 shot Joy For Mary.
Jim Bolger’s representative Ger Flynn explained: “Kevin says he’s very nice, if still a bit green.
He’s a colt we like a lot and came to hand quickly. He was babyish and showed signs of inexperience, and there should be plenty of improvement to come. He showed a good turn of foot and is a horse with a future.”
Sweet Sounds, which Ger Lyons trains for Qatar Racing, outclassed her rivals in the auction event, quickening into the lead, for Colin Keane, two furlongs out. Soon in command, she held the persistent effort of Massif Central by three-quarters of a length.
Lyons admitted: “I’m a bit worried about the string. Medicine Jack and a few others are under the weather. But this was a good opportunity for this filly, the last race for her for a while without going straight into stakes company. The conditions of the race were right and she seemed in good form.
“Colin felt she got there a mile too soon and that the ground was as fast as she’d like. But she’s a lovely filly, one for next year.”
Jim Bolger completed a double when 16/1 shot Tap Focus proved a gutsy and poignant winner of the finale, the Sean Cleary Memorial Handicap.
Tap Focus was ridden to victory by Rory Cleary, brother of Sean, who died as a result of injuries sustained in a fall in Galway in 2003. And, remarkably, he was riding the winner of the race for the second successive year, having won on his father’s Greanta (unplaced this time) last year.
Cleary commented: “It’s great to win the race again. Fair play to the boss (Bolger) – he felt the ground was too bad for her the last day in Sligo. He gave me simple instructions – just win!”
Having won the Red God (Premier) Handicap with Hawke in Dundalk on Sunday, Johnny Murtagh struck again for Ballygallon Stud when three-year-old filly Chilli Spice, having her first run since arriving from France, landed the Irish Jockeys Association Handicap in good style at the expense of Palmones.
The Manduro filly was a second winner in two days for jockey Niall McCullagh. A delighted Murtagh commented: “The horses are going great – they’re healthy and well. This filly was a bit buzzy at home when she arrived, but she has settled down well.
“Niall was delighted with her and said she stays well and has a good turn of foot. A mile and a quarter is a good trip for her. I’ll try to find something for her on Champions Weekend now.”
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