THE Tony Mullins stable landed a nice little touch when Naked Cowboy swooped late to capture the first division of the mile 47-64 handicap at Gowran Park.
Backed from 7& 8 /1 into 9/2, the Statue Of Liberty gelding was dropped out in the early stages by rider Shane Foley at Thursday’s meeting. He still had plenty to do turning for home, but finished with a wet sail to get up close to home and win going away by a length and a quarter from the favourite Legendary Times.
On paper at least this was a competitive contest and different riding tactics worked the oracle. The winner showed exceptional talent in the straight and there is no reason whey he cannot progress from here.
Pat Flynn, trainer of Legendary Times, had better luck in the previous contest as Brog Deas, under a strong Danny Grant ride, lifted the mile 54-74 handicap from the favourite Queenscliff.
Never out of the leading group Brog Deas slipped ahead over a furlong out and held the late effort of Queenscliff by half a length. The latter, which was well touted before racing, failed to quicken as expected in the soft to yielding ground. Queenscliff can be forgiven for this lapse and is one to keep in mind in a similar type contest.
Flynn has nothing fancy in mind for Brog Deas, but intimated that he will stay handicapping. He might jump a hurdle before the year is out.
The 25/1 outsider On The Loose landed the second division after a hectic battle with Night Singer. With only a couple of lengths separating the first six home it was a triumph for the handicapper.
A daughter of Great Palm On The Loose, like many of the progeny of her sire, has suffered from wind problems and failed to see out two mile over hurdles on Winter ground. The rain arrived in time for her and she showed plenty of resilience when it was most needed.
Never out of the leading group, On The Loose struck the front entering the straight but looked shot for the rest of the field. She kept finding enough however and just held the final surge of Night Singer to win by a short head.
Winning handler Tom McCourt told me that he is considering sending his charge back over hurdles when the ground dries out as she is well handicapped.
Racing opened with a victory for the Kevin Prendergast yard when Soohaad got up close to home to land the seven furlong maiden in the hands of Declan McDonagh. Well supported, the American-bred daughter of Hard Spun was never too far out of her ground. She came for her race in the straight and found plenty in the closing stages to hit the wire a length to the good over the Jim Bolger runner Caonach.
The most impressive winner of the evening was Macbeth which looked bound for better things when landing the mile and four maiden for three-year-olds. Setting off in front under Billy Lee, the Acclamation colt had his rivals well cooked turning to face the judge. His winning margin of four and a half lengths over the Aidan O’Brien-trained favourite Chicago could have been more had Lee desired.
Winning handler Ken Condon told me that he holds his charge in high regard. The Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh is now under consideration, while a trip to Royal Ascot for the Queens Vase is also an option.
Owner J.P. McManus scored a rare flat success when Apache Drums enjoyed a comfortable enough success in the mile and a half 56-73 handicap. Given a stylish ride by Fran Berry, the five-year-old was not without his share of support.
After chasing the leaders he went to the front over a furlong down and in spite of an unusual head carriage readily disposed of the challenge of Regal Tramp by two and a quarter lengths. Charles O’Brien, who trains the winner, revealed that the rain came in time for the son of High Chaparral. Cheek pieces were an obvious help, the trainer added, and Apache Drums will mix it between the flat and over hurdles for the Summer.
Two leading Curragh trainers Dermot Weld and John Oxx battled out the finish of the concluding mile and four maiden with victory going to the former courtesy of Olympiad. The Galileo colt upped the tempo leaving the back straight but looked venerable as Safarqand was travelling well off the home turn.
The pair had a rare old set-to all the way up the straight and in a welter of excitement Olympiad prevailed by a nose. There was some close riding which resulted in a steward’s inquiry but the placings remained unaltered. These are two pretty decent animals that can be followed for a good part of the season ahead.