Todd delight as Derby day record is set
Elated Down Royal Manager, Mike Todd was still on a high yesterday after the success of the weekend Summer Festival at the course.
"I'm thrilled," declared Todd. "We had a record crowd of in excess of 7,500 for the Magners Ulster Derby day on Saturday and the atmosphere was electric.
"Everyone enjoyed the event and the various features on the day which came together thanks to my team at the course, the ongoing sponsors, the trainers who supported the racing over the two days and the public who turned out big time and in a style befitting Derby day.
"It will take a couple of days for the buzz to leave even myself."
Todd, as usual, sells himself short in the credit stakes, being instrumental in the overall success of an event that attracted three times the turnout at the recent Curragh Guineas fixture.
Master of Coolcullen Jim Bolger claimed the Magners Ulster Derby for the third time in four years when Clongowes landed the £100,000 feature with Ronan Whelan aboard. The winner was backed down from 8/1 on the morning of the race to 3/1 favourite.
Clongowes, named after a prestigious college based at Clane, County Meath, is owned by Sheikh Mohammed's international racing and breeding operation, Godolphin, which was only denied the leading owner title at Royal Ascot when placed horses were taken into account as Ballydoyle again finished top owners.
Finn Mc Cool and Clongowes always headed affairs in the Ulster Derby with the winner asserting after the turn into the straight as Wingingit and Tilly's Chilli gave chase.
Ronan Whelan, recording his first Derby success, said: "I came here today hoping that he'd get the job done. I spoke to the boss and to Kevin Manning last night and they were very sweet about him. He's been hitting the crossbar a lot so it's nice to get his head in front.
"He's just a big galloper and he'll never do anything flashy. That's why I was always close to the pace as I didn't want to give him too much to do.
"The boss always seems to line one up for here and he fitted his profile today. He had a couple of good runs and was nicely weighted. We had Stellar Mass here last year who went on to be third in the Irish Derby. I know it's only a handicap but it always takes a nice horse to win this."
Whelan, who picked up a two day riding ban later in the day in the Down Royal handicap, was completing a double on the day having scored earlier on Cappadocia which denied the locally trained, Bien Chase (20/1 to 8/1) by a neck. The latter is trained by rookie Armagh handler Adrian Mc Allister who has taken out the trainer's license following the very sad recent passing of his boss, Lady Jane Gillespie, the runner up carrying her colours. Duncan Of Scotland filled third for Moira trainer Lee Smyth to maintain his Derby day record of runners.
Caledon trainer Andy Oliver had to wait until the last race to register a winner when Gustavus Vassa, with Chris Hayes aboard, made a winning debut for the County Tyrone trainer.
Oliver said:"He's a lovely horse and one I've been waiting on for a while. He's very big, very backward and raw. He's always showed a great attitude - we've always liked him and we just waited. It's only this last month that we thought 'yes it's coming'. And there is a good deal more to come. He showed a great attitude and Chris gave him a great ride. I told him he's going to be inexperienced and you're just going to have to deal with it in the race.
"He left him alone and it was a great ride. He battled well. We always thought this would probably be his minimum but he's not short of toe."
Dragon Fei, in foal to Dandy Man, won the Coolmore Ulster Oaks at her third attempt for trainer Dermot Mc Laughlin and jockey, Billy Lee, while the winning trainer said: "Billy said she hated it but they went quick enough for her and she had something to aim at. She is coming near the end of her racing days. "