Enthusiastic owner Tom Howley jnr was the toast of Athenry last night after his 9/1 chance Ask Jack made virtually all the running from his plum draw to give Limerick rider Chris Hayes his second Topaz Mile success in three years.
Quietly supported in a lively market for this premier handicap, Fethard trainer Joe Murphy's consistent six-year-old considerably boosted his career earnings thanks to an enterprising ride from former triple champion apprentice Hayes.
The importance of a high draw (17 of 18) at this tight circuit over a mile or less was emphasised once more when Hayes, victorious on-board Celtic Dance in 2008, energetically kept his mount at full stretch to deny outsider Mid Mon Lady (drawn 12) as Worldly Wise only got into top gear inside the final furlong to pip If Per Chance for third money.
“This has been the plan since the festival last year when Ask Jack was just beaten in the big seven-furlong handicap by Fit The Cove,” said Murphy.
“He's a genuine horse and it's a race I've always wanted to win. His good draw was vital — you need a good draw to win this race — and he is very genuine.”
The Latin Quarter Chase saw a winner for the visitors as English raider Invisible Man, from the Ian Williams yard, scored a bloodless victory over the home team.
Williams had scored on the flat here in 2003 with The Prince and there was never much doubt about the superiority of the heavily punted Invisible Man once the former Irish champion allowed him to take the lead three out.
The five-year-old was tackling the two-mile, six-furlong conditions event after being relegated to second reserve for this afternoon's Tote Plate.
There was an emotional win for trainer Paul Cashman when Miss Eze showed great determination to land the Caulfield Industrial Athlone Handicap, providing Michael Hussey with his first Galway winner this year.
The daughter of Danehill Dancer was well off the pace in the early stages, but flew home to eventually get her head in front close home for a short head win over He's Got Rhythm.
Afterwards Cashman dedicated Miss Eze's win to his late father Liam.