Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Paddy's day ends with a double for trainer

Rock on: Texas Rock, with Niall McCullough on board, wins the Magners Berry Maiden at Down Royal last night

Manalapan won the featured Her Majesty's Plate last night to complete a double for trainer Patrick Prendergast.

The race proved a tactical affair with just three runners. Manalapan made all while closely stalked by the Ballydoyle-trained and Joseph O'Brien-ridden El Salvador.

O'Brien attempted to challenge three furlongs from home but El Salvador was soon under pressure as the favourite galloped strongly to the line and the locally-trained Sir Ector – last year's Ulster Derby winner – was always third.

Prendergast said: "He was well in – it was a lovely opportunity.

"He might go to Turkey in September – it's a recognised black type race over a similar distance."

Windward Passage and Spring Focus were always at the head of affairs in the one and a quarter mile handicap with the former trained by Prendergast and partnered by Derry jockey Fergal Lynch keeping on the better in the closing stages to prevail.

The James Nash-trained Little Sweethear was the runaway winner of the opening sprint race.

Winning jockey Danny Grant said: "She ran at Navan but did not get home. We came here for the down hill run to the finish."

The two-year old maiden also supplied a runaway success with the Ger Lyons-trained Belle Et Bete appreciating the drop in class and scoring by eight lengths-plus, with stable jockey Colin Keane in the saddle.

Lyons said: "She's a lovely straightforward filly but we will take it in baby steps with her."

Texas Rock, owned by chairman of Horse Racing Ireland Joe Keeling, landed the seven furlong maiden with Niall McCullough aboard, giving trainer Michael Grassick Jnr his first flat winner.

The winner always held the upper hand in the closing stages and the trainer said: "It means a lot to get a winner for Joe as he's been a great supporter.

"I took a chance running against today's rival. We'll have a bit of fun with him."

The handler currently has 10 in training mostly for the flat.

Former top class jockey Johnny Murtagh combined with his daughter to register victory in the seven furlongs handicap.

Caroline Murtagh was seen to good advantage when always handy on the winner – leading at the two furlong marker and then holding the late challenge of Right First close home by a head.

Trainer Murtagh said: "He's only a small horse but he's thriving. All his wins have previously been at Dundalk. He likes that fast ground.

"Caroline rides him out every day. She's starting to get the hang of it. I always said it takes 20 rides to find your feet."

Irish champion jockey Joseph O'Brien delighted fans and supporters when making all to win on favourite Shell House in the fillies handicap.

O'Brien said of the winner, trained by his father Aidan: "She's uncomplicated and enjoys that ground.

"She won well."

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