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Close finishes at Down Royal

THE Joseph O’Brien trained, ‘Snaffles’ was the best horse on show at Down Royal on Friday night (September 10), when turning the valuable EBF maiden into a one-horse event in the closing stages. The winner, with Shane Crosse in the saddle, sat handy to the leaders prior to joining the front running ‘Nawraq’ (second) at the elbow and quickly sprinted clear afterwards.

The winning son of ‘Churchill’, owned by Demi O’Byrne, was picked up for just £11,000 despite being a half-brother to an eight-time winner, ‘Libranno’.

Assistant trainer, Brendan Powell said: “He’s a nice horse. He got into all sorts of trouble in Leopardstown first time out. I know they liked him at home. He was, yes (an eye-catcher the way he finished in Leopardstown) – early on he just got into all sorts of bother. I know Joseph (O’Brien) has always thought the world of him. He’s such a laid-back, relaxed horse and you don’t know what is in the tank. He is a smart horse for the future.”

The opener was won by the Dermot Weld trained, ‘Pearl Palinka’. Runner up and favourite, ‘Brostaigh’ and ‘Obtain’ (third) headed the field for most of the race, however the winner, which had tracked the leaders, was pulled wide in the final furlong by stable jockey, Oisin Orr to score going away. The winner is owned and bred by Charlie McCreevy – former Minister for Finance in Irish Government and runs in his wife Noeleen’s name.

Orr said: “She just did too much the last day. Five furlongs is suiting her and hopefully she can go forward from that. I think she is ready for a higher grade – she has always shown plenty at home. The only time she has disappointed was last time, when she stumbled leaving the stalls and just ran a bit too free in my hands and didn’t get home. I think that sharp five suits her well, as she has loads of speed.”

The two-year-old sprint maiden produced a four-way finish (length covering quartet), with the Willie McCreery trained ‘Red Wasp’ (11s to 7/1) bursting through a split in the leaders in the final hundred yards to win, with Billy Lee aboard. ‘Elegant Ellen’ (second) and ‘Plezantlysurprised’ (third) looked the possible winners until the daughter of ‘Coulsty’ got into top gear.

Lee said: “The plan was just to get a lead on her and I suppose you are open to a bit of luck then. To be fair, I had plenty of horse underneath me. I just angled her out and I had plenty of room. When I got the gap, she picked up well; she has won cosy at the line.”

The nursery supplied another photo finish, with the Kevin Prendergast ‘Mumayaz’ (13/2 to 7/2 favourite) delivered late by jockey, Chris Hayes to avoid a shock result, with runner up ‘Walking On Clouds’, a 33/1 chance, having looked the winner until the shadow of the post and beaten by just a short head. ‘Princess Rajj’, which was always in the front rank, was third half a length behind the principals.

Hayes said: “He’s a horse I liked when he was running in maidens and he disappointed us, so we said he would rule out one thing and we gelded him. It seems to have transformed him. I actually thought I won further than I did, it felt like a furlong down I was always going to get there.”

‘New Society’ looked like providing a local success, when leading in the straight in the featured Ulster Cesarewitch, however, both ‘Turnpike Trip’ (12s to 3/1) and ‘Anyonecanhaveitall’ (8s to 5/1) were powering home late and the last named, trained by Michael Halford with Mikey Sheehy aboard, claimed the longest flat race run in the province, with the local runner filling third. The runner up, trained by Cathal Byrnes will see the license revert to the trainer’s father, Charles Byrnes on Monday, following a six-month ban.

Sheehy said: “I probably jumped a little bit too well, I rode him probably a bit forward than I would have liked, but I travelled sweetly everywhere. I didn’t think we went overly fast, so I didn’t want to get stuck down the rail when I was in such a good rhythm. In fairness, once I got him down the outside, he came alight. He did it well to be fair. If he could sneak into one of those bigger handicaps off a light weight, it would be a nice ride to get.”

The 50-70 handicap saw a hard fought finish. Joe Doyle had ‘Silent Performance’ tucked in on the rail for most of the race, but when asked to pass the leader ‘Dammit’ was slow to respond, however, the jockey got maximum effort out of the Denis Hogan trained horse to score a half-length at the line.

Doyle said: “We really like this filly since we got her, we knew she had ability. Just that extra furlong really helped her today. We got into a bit of a battle and she was in front where it mattered.”

The Noel Meade trained ‘Ben Siegel’, partnered by Dylan Brown McMonagle, showed no ill-effects of having finished runner up at Clonmel on Thursday evening, when overhauling the front-running ‘Dollar Value’, which attempted to make all in the first division of the finale. The winner sat second until kicking clear at the two-furlong marker.

The Conor O’Dwyer trained ‘Trump Card’ was another to turn out quickly following running at Navan last weekend and, after a good scrap with ‘Crackaway’ in the straight, took the second division of the last with the locally trained ‘Boing’ filling third at 100/1.

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