HEAVY overnight rain ensured that the going was changed from good to soft for Wednesday’s meeting at Gowran Park.
The sudden change in conditions ensured several trainers were forced to withdraw their horses. Owing to the ground there were a few big upsets at the meeting, with all seven favourites biting the dust.
Captain’s Affair served notice of things to come when he took the opening juvenile maiden over seven furlongs at odds of 33/1.
Breaking smartly, the son of Captain Rio was soon at the head of affairs. Although headed early in the straight he battled back to regain the advantage in the closing strides and land the spoils by a short head from Zakim. The odds-on favourite, Freedom Square from the Jim Bolger stable, was another head back in third place.
Bred by his trainer John Murphy the winner was making his debut at the course and showed a likeable attitude when pressed into action. His dam was a mile and two maiden winner on easy ground so it runs in the family.
This is a race that could well throw up a couple of future winners. Freedom Square had finished third on his debut behind Fast In The Wind at the Curragh while the second horse in that race, Coach House, fairly bolted up at Tipperary.
Coming from the family of Teofilo Freedom Square pulled hard early on and hung both left and right in the straight before giving way close to home. He is certainly one to keep on the right side of in the future, a remark that would apply to the fourth finisher Wilshire Boulevard. A three-parts brother to the top class miler Zoffany, the Holy Roman Emperor colt must be showing plenty at home as there was a late rush of money for him.
Given the fact that all the Aidan O’Brien juvenile runners improve significantly from their initial outing we can expect the same from Wilshire Boulevard.
Mooncoin handler Eoin Doyle got his name on the scoresheet when capturing the second race on the card courtesy of Akira.
This was a seven furlong maiden for three-year-olds and the Acclamation filly made every yard of the running, coming home an impressive four and three-quarter lengths clear of Tropical Mist with the heavily-supported favourite Danseur De Feu a similar distance away in third place.
Owned and bred by Max Morris, Akira been slowly away over the course and distance on her debut last month but she showed vast improvement. On this evidence she is bound for better things.
Margaret Mullins was on the mark when she saddled Pepparpot, a horse she also owns and bred, to land the extended mile and a furlong Apprentice handicap.
Given a positive ride by Katherine O’Brien the four-year-old was always close to the pace. She hit the front turning to face the judge and in spite of coming off a straight line had enough in hand to hold the late surge of Badger Daly by half a length.
This was the first victory in almost two years for the winning rider, who is studying sports science at the University of Limerick. O’Brien hopes to keep in contact with the sport but her future lies elsewhere.
There was another 33/1 victory in the mile and a furlong three-year-old fillies maiden when Billy Lee kept Musical Piece going long enough to beat Madam Mo by a head.
Madam Mo attempted to make every post a wining one but raced wide in an effort to get the best of the ground. She did not give in without a battle and rallied well when she was headed inside the furlong marker.
This was the second leg for trainer Willie McCreery who was at one time a well-respected Kildare footballer, as he had earlier taken the seven furlong 60-73 handicap with the 9/1 chance Kanes Pass.
Making most of the running Kanes Pass battled well for jockey Shane Kelly. She was headed briefly by the gambled on Lord Jim, but asserted her superiority inside the final furlong to hit the wire a length and a half to the good.
Kevin Prendergast will freely admit to attending Gowran Park for over 70 years since his father, the legendary Paddy ‘Darkie’ Prendergast took him racing as a schoolboy. Kevin, who has trained many winners at the venue, was on hand to greet Vastonea after he battled well to beat the Jim Bolger representative Miracle Cure in the mile 84-96 handicap.
Winner of the Topaz Mile at last year’s Galway festival Vastonea came from off the pace to swoop late under Sam James and head Miracle Cure almost on the line.
In his post-race remarks Prendergast revealed that the rider’s 3lb claim and the rain were a big help. Galway will again be on the agenda for the winner, provided the round is on the soft side.