Down Royal: Manning goes to Town to give Bolger Derby glory
Jim Bolger rounded off the Down Royal meeting by claiming his fourth Ulster Derby with with Wexford Town. With Kevin Manning on-board Wexford Town, bred, owned and trained by Bolger, followed in the footsteps of his brother Trading Leather, who was the winner of the Irish Derby last year.
Manning, who is Bolger's son-in-law, didn't make the best of starts and was almost detached for most of the race as Urban Moon lead and Azurite looked the likely winner when challenging at the elbow, but he had made steady headway from the top of the hill and launched a decisive challenge inside in the final furlong to prevail by a head from Magnolia Beach
There was little consolation for trainer Ger Lyons, who had both the second and third placed horses, with Magnolia Beach and Azurite also placed.
The victory for Manning followed previous successes in Derbys at Epsom and the Curragh.
"They went very quick from the start," he said.
"I knew two furlongs from home I was going to get there. He's still green – I got lucky on the day."
The happiest man on Derby day was Magheralin- based trainer, Lee Smyth.
He won a three runner race with Norville, but said it meant as much as any other victory.
"It's the first winner for owner Richard Auld," he said.
"The horse came from England and has dropped in the ratings with age.
"I took a chance running him when I saw the small declarations, but winning a three-runner race is the same for me as 30 runners and it was great to get Pat Smullen on-board.
"I have only five in training and run most of them on the all-weather in England, but had a winner here in March."
The old firm of Dermot Weld and top jockey Smullen, already successful at Royal Ascot again last week, collected the Ulster Oaks with Vintage Nouveau.
The winner always travelled best while again Lyons had to settle for second with Snow Scene.
Smullen said: "She's an improver and will get one and a half miles. She travelled very well through the race. She was just a little green when I got to the front."
While Lyons had to settle for places in the principal contests he still managed a double on the day likewise his new stable jockey, Colin Keane.
While Bolger landed the big race he had to settle for two seconds later in the day, including the finale with Ceoldrama – although it's a horse that is likely to be winning shortly.