CHAMPION trainer Aidan O’Brien, despite focusing on Royal Ascot, dominated the finish of the Ulster Derby when ‘Iowa’ (20s to 14/1) claimed the richest flat race run in the province, with the trainer also responsible for the fast finishing runner up, ‘King Of The Castle’.
The winner was still a maiden, but broke his duck on his ninth start, while winning jockey, Michael Hussey was partnering his first winner of the season. ‘Bear Story’ (third) and ‘Kailash’ (fourth) were fighting out the finish in the closing stages, but Hussey pulled the winner off the rail when third to challenge wide and overhaul the leaders and deny his stable companion.
Hussey said: “He was game, he switched off well and he appreciated every furlong. He kept going at the end and he won well. Everyone gets their chance in Ballydoyle and it is great to be picking up rides, while the lads are away. It is a good atmosphere up here, with the crowds getting in again.”
The Ulster Oaks supplied a shock result, when 22/1 shot ‘Princess Mathilde’ landed the prize for another O’Brien, this time Joseph – son of the champion trainer. The winner, having joined her fifth trainer, got a great ride from jockey Mark Gallagher when coming from behind to collar the leaders and easily hold the challenge of runner up ‘Soaring Sky’.
Assistant trainer Brendan Powell said: “Before she ran first time out, she had been doing exceptional work and she was disappointing. Mark (Gallagher) said she loved that quicker ground. He said the whole way around, she travelled like a
dream. She galloped out well to the line. That’s sort of what we expected the first time she ran.”
‘Brave Display’, despite drifting from 7s to 14/1, supplied a local winner on Derby day. Trained at Blackwater by James Lambe and owned by Armagh based Richie Behan, the horse was winning for the sixth time and, with top jockey Seamie Heffernan aboard, turned the first division of the six furlong handicap into a procession, when leading at the furlong mark and shooting clear for a facile victory.
Lambe said: “Seamie gave him a great ride and, in fairness, he had ability before, so some days he turns up and some days he
doesn’t. The ground today suited him and we just changed sheepskin cheek pieces to blinkers.”
Heffernan added: “I’ve ridden the horse numerous times and, if the handicapper puts him up, he’ll struggle – bottom line.”
The Willie McCreery trained ‘Cherry Bloom’ (14s to 7/2), with Chris Hayes aboard, prevailed in the opener after a hard fought battle with runner up ‘Caleta Sunrise’ in the final furlong. The winner, only fourth at the two furlong mark, gained a snug victory and looks capable of better.
Hayes said: “She’s a lovely filly and I thought if she had built on her first run, she’d have a great shout. They went very quick and Willie (McCreery) was confident she would stay further.”
‘That’s Mad’ looked like supplying a local victory in the five-furlong dash, but was overhauled in the final 100 yards by ‘Chocquinto’, trained by Hilary McLoughlin with Ballyclare apprentice, Sam Ewing in the saddle, while another local hope ‘Arnhem’ filled third.
The winner was gaining a repeat course success, having been successful at the venue on her penultimate start and the race just 0.10 seconds over the minute.
‘War Hero’, partnered by Cian McRedmond, powered home on the outside to win the second division of the six-furlong handicap for trainer, Adrian McGuinness, who said: “Cian (McRedmond) gave him a great ride; they were going very quick early and the plan was to sit handy, but he was very patient.
“He took the
widest route, but the safest route for a clean run. You run off the turf mark in Laytown, so that could be a plan in September.”
The Michael Halford trained ‘Silaiyli’ was ultra-impressive, winning the finale with
Ronan Whelan aboard and could prove to follow in the coming weeks. The winner challenged at the elbow into the straight and was pulled wide to score going away.
Halford said: “He’s probably a horse to keep improving and I was impressed with him today. He is a strong individual, just does the minimum at home and minds himself. He’s an ideal racehorse, with a great mind and the way he did that, I’ll bide my time and see. He’s very laid back and even today out of the stalls he was a slow learner and Ronan (Whelan) said he had to bustle him along to get him travelling.”