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Top Tartan has victory on a Plate

 

By Ron McKnight

Racegoers at Down Royal were treated to an excellent renewal of Her Majesty's Plate last night with The Tartan Spartan supplying trainer Pat Shanahan with a convincing winner.

Partnered by Ronan Whelan, the The Tartan Spartan - 16/1 to 10/1 - made steady progress to lead two furlongs from home and keep on gamely to deny the favourite, Twilight Payment, which rallied in the closing stages.

Shanahan - a former top Classic-winning jockey who had a long association with the late Con Collins - has registered 10 winners this season.

Winning jockey Whelan said: "Pat filled me with plenty of confidence before the race. He said to have him up there but he was a bit idle in front near the line. He'll have plenty of options after that."

The Tartan Spartan holds an entry in the Irish St Leger.

Armagh-trained Shamar looked to have supplied a local victory in the apprentice race when bursting clear in the straight however the photo showed Set To Fire had prevailed for trainer Johnny Feane and rider Sean Davis.

The Johnny Murtagh-trained Sankari Royale proved the easy winner of the opener.

Sankari Royale, with Niall McCullagh aboard, challenged wide as the race looked between favourite Treasuring and India Rain.

McCullagh said: "She's not too bad - she's a small little thing but has a big heart. We knew coming here we had a chance."

Mr Michael opened his account on his 18th start when swooping late to claim the sprint.

Winning jockey Shane Foley said: "He's always threatened to do that. Adrian (Joyce, trainer) told me he thought he had him as good as ever he had him. I got a clear run down the outside."

Lisard Lady defied her 16/1 price to win on her debut for trainer Thomas Cooper and jockey Wayne Lordan.

The £2,500 purchase flew home to catch Darholva on the line.

Lordan said: "Tom liked her beforehand. She quickened very well and was impressive."

Trainer Cooper added: "I always thought she was useful and looked very sharp.

"I was quite fancying her - I'm from Kerry and wasn't coming here with a no hoper!" he quipped.

Trainer Ado McGuinness and jockey Declan McDonogh combined to prevail with Guanabara Bay in a three-way photo finish in the Magners Handicap, with Harry Speed - which had attempted to make all - having to settle for second.

The Pat Smullen-ridden Boom Or Bush won the last ahead of All Of Me.

Meanwhile, top jockey Bryan Cooper will no longer be the retained rider for the Gigginstown House Stud, owned by Michael O'Leary.

The Ryanair boss's brother Eddie O'Leary explained: "We'll still be using him a lot - he just won't have automatic first choice as of today.

"We'll still be using and supporting him, but he won't have first call on the horses, that's all. We'll be using the best available."

Cooper's father Tom - who won with Lisard Lady at Down Royal last night - said: "It came a bit suddenly and after a very successful Punchestown.

"He's ridden 29 Grade One winners and a Gold Cup - he'll bounce back."

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