COOLCULLEN trainer Jim Bolger had a little help from his family as he recorded a winner at Gowran Park, writes ’People racing correspondent, Ned Tierney.
Bolger was back in business at his local meeting on Wednesday evening when Cul Baire landed the mile and six maiden. It was a real family success as the winner is owned by his daughter Una and was guided to victory by her husband Kevin Manning.
A bumper winner on his racecourse debut at Galway, the son of King’s Best subsequently found the heavy conditions at Wexford too much for him. The drying ground proved to be a big help and there was plenty of confidence behind him.
After chasing the leaders early on Cul Baire crept closer turning for home. Manning kicked him into the lead with a furlong or so to run and in spite of coming off a straight line he ran on well to beat Dermot Weld’s Train Of Thought by a couple of lengths.
This was a likeable display by the four-year-old. It will be interesting to see what route he takes from here as some of the vibes post-race suggested that he could well go hurdling.
The victory of High Octane in the opening juvenile maiden over seven furlongs showed that in spite of the high prices paid for yearlings there is value to be found at the lower end of the market - the Motivator colt cost a mere 800 guineas at the Newmarket sales.
Backed from all kinds of fancy prices in the morning into 10-1, High Octane was given time to find his feet by rider Shamie Heffernan. He made smooth headway from the two furlong marker to lead soon afterwards and pull out plenty when asked to land the spoils by a length and three-parts from Military Device.
Winning handler John Joe Murphy told me that he has been waiting all season for nice ground for his charge. He holds an entry for the Racing Post Trophy, but the trainer will wait and see how he progresses before making a final decision.
Murphy went on to capture a share of the first prize later in the evening when Ibsen dead-heated with Hazariban in the second division of the mile and four 49-64 handicap. This time Murphy used the services of Wayne Lordan, who earned his riding fee as he brought Ibsen from off the pace to lead 50 yards out, but Hazariban finished with a flourish and got on terms right on the line.
The judge failed to separate the pair but in fairness neither horse deserved to lose. Murphy has no set plan for Ibsen but Seamus Fahey, who has charge of Hazariban, announced that he is considering giving the horse an outing or two over hurdles.
David Wachman had earlier teamed up with Lordan to capture the seven furlong nursery with Horizon Sky in good style. Although he failed to win in five previous attempts the son of Duke of Marmalade had some decent form to his credit.
On paper this looked a very open contest and so it proved with the bookies making Horizon Sky and Sherzam joint favourites at 3/1. Shouldering top weight, Horizon Sky was tucked in behind the leaders by Lordan. He eased his way to the front at the two furlong marker and pulled out plenty to see off the challenge of Ballyorban by two lengths with the Jim Bolger representative a similar distance away in third place.
Wachman has no firm plans for the winner other than viewing another nursery. He looks a nice enough colt who will improve as the season progresses.
Feature race in terms of prize money was the extended mile and a furlong 70-88 handicap. It fell to the Dermot Weld yard when Along Came Casey fairly demolished the opposition to land a decent gamble.
Given a vintage ride by Pat Smullen the four-year-old was always close to the leaders. She took over early in the straight and went right away to score in impressive fashion by four and a half lengths from Cheval Rouge.
Owned by the trainer’s mother Marguerite, the winner will now be aimed at a listed contest in an effort to gain some black-type. This would be of considerable benefit to her when she retires to the paddocks.
Colin Keane received rave reviews from trainer John McConnell after he landed the first division of the mile and a half 47-65 handicap aboard Sheilas Wish. Dropping his mount out early on Keane, a 7lb claimer, weaved his way through the field to lead entering the last furlong and hit the wire two lengths to the good from Surf’s Up.
A good servant to connections Sheilas Wish will now have to move up in grade as this victory puts her out of races with a 65 rating.