GOWRAN PARK staged an all-flat card on Thursday evening where the ground rode on the easy side of good. For once local trainers had to take a back seat, which made balancing the books a shade more difficult than usual.
Dick Brabazon, who comes from a great racing family, caused the biggest upset of the evening when he saddled Korbous to take the three-year-old maiden over seven furlongs at odds of 20/1.
Partnered by Shamie Heffernan, the Choisir gelding was never too far out of his ground. He arrived to challenge the front running odds-on favourite That Boy David inside the final furlong before getting up in the dying strides to record a neck victory.
The winning trainer revealed that his charge, which was making his debut, had been working well at home. He was expecting a prominent showing, but winning was something that he hardly thought possible. The gelding is owned and was bred by Penelope McAuley who, in her day, was a well-known show jumper but is going to be difficult to place from here and may have to try his hand at Stakes level.
Cronach from the Jim Bolger stable, which had run prominently at the previous meeting here, was well supported. After being in a good position at the two furlong marker Cronach failed to quicken from there and had to be content with third place a couple of lengths in arrears.
Bolger also had to settle for place money in the opening two-year-old maiden where his representative, Einsteins Folly, found the Dermot Weld-trained newcomer Imperial Concorde a head too good.
Given a positive ride by Pat Smullen, Concorde made every yard of the running and battled well when Einsteins Folly threw down his challenge. The result gave the master of Roswell House his first juvenile winner of the season with his first runner.
Weld said post-race that his two-year-olds are a shade backward this term but he thinks that the winner could be decent. Galway could be on the agenda for Imperial Concorde, a venue that saw his close relation Grey Swallow make a deep impression a number of years ago.
An Saincheann was another well-supported Bolger runner in the extended mile and a furlong three-year-old fillies maiden. When she came to dispute the lead entering the straight hopes were high that she was going to do the business, but she encountered traffic problems close to home and finished third behind Zariyna and Urban Ball.
There was a sting in the tail, however for winning rider Johnnie Murtagh as he picked up a one-day ban for careless riding.
Conor Hoban, one of the best claiming jockeys around, recorded a double courtesy of OK Annie and Legendary Times. Joining forces with trainer Pat Martin, Hoban got off the mark aboard OK Annie in the 47-63 handicap over seven furlongs. Ahead from the drop of the flag, OK Annie raced clear from the two furlong marker and won by three lengths with plenty in hand.
Hoban had the leg up on Legendary Times, which is owned by Irish soccer international John O’Shea, in the mile and a furlong apprentice handicap. The combination went on to record a comfortable two and three-quarter length success over First Friday. Trained near Carrick-on-Suir by Pat Flynn, Legendary Times was scoring for the second time for O’Shea, who is currently training with the Republic of Ireland squad ahead of their friendly with Bosnia and the European Championships in Poland.
Former top jockey Pat Shanahan recorded the first training success of his career when Prince Jock, under a polished Ronan Whelan ride, landed the extended mile apprentice handicap at Wexford on Saturday.
Now based near Danesfort, Shanahan is the retained trainer to Thistle Bloodstock and was having his 13th runner which proved to be a far from unlucky omen. Always prominent, Prince Jock took a definite advantage entering the last furlong and with Whelan keeping him up to his work went on to hit the wire a couple of lengths ahead of Rock Of Ciara.
The result was a triumph for the handicapper. Less than five lengths separated the first 10 home but gave the judge an extremely busy time.
Willie Mullins continued his domination of the bumper scene when he sent out Chilterns Hills to take the two mile mares bumper after a good scrap with Ourbeautifuldream.
Having caught the eye at Punchestown when finishing fourth on her debut the Beneficial mare had plenty of takers. She came from mid division to challenge before the straight and although headed a furlong out, battled back to regain the advantage close to home and take the money by a head.
On paper this looked a decent contest. It will be interesting to see where the winner goes from here as she has the pedigree to make her mark when she has an obstacle in front of her.