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Foley enjoys an Ulster Derby day to remember with impressive success in both feature races

 

Winning salute: jockey Shane Foley and Dadoozdart
Winning salute: jockey Shane Foley and Dadoozdart

By Ron McKnight

The new Down Royal management team faced their biggest test to date and passed with flying colours on Ulster Derby day.

The track and associated facilities were in pristine condition and got the vote of regular racegoers and first time visitors.

Down Royal chief executive Emma Meehan plans to spend an additional £625,000 this year on the refurbishment and improvement of existing buildings and facilities, despite the course currently unable to access finance from the Northern Ireland Horse Racing Fund due to the absence of a Stormont Executive and Minister.

Shane Foley, who was appointed retained stable jockey for the Jessica Harrington stable earlier this year, enjoyed a bumper weekend, following up a double at Limerick with a treble at the Lisburn course, including both feature contests.

Victory for Foley on Dadoozdart in the £100,000 feature - sponsored by Magners, which attracted a record three British runners - provided compensation for the rider and connections after their second place finish in 2017 with Wingingit.

Former Connacht rugby captain John Muldoon, who is involved in the winning syndicate of owners, said: "My heart was pounding more at the finish than any rugby match - I thought we might be second again."

Numerous horses had chances on the downhill run but it was the O'Brien-trained King's Vow that led into the straight. However the Noel Meade-trained Dadoozdart ground down the leader with a very gutsy effort in the final hundred yards to score by a neck with British runner Future Investment staying on to finish third. Another cross-channel challenger, Kashagan, was found be slightly lame post-race.

Meade said: "We don't have very many Flat horses. Over the last couple of years we have got a few more just to keep the thing going through the summer.

"They are an awful lot easier to train, to be honest. They are a doddle compared to training jumpers. They get away with murder those Flat trainers!

"The plan was to go to Ascot for the King George V Stakes. We were second reserve and we decided it wasn't worth the risk. But he's a nice horse and I think he will still progress from here.

"I don't know if he will go to the Curragh which is a 50-grand handicap and he is after winning a 100,000 handicap so we might try and look for another of those."

He added: We'll see what the handicapper does. The prize money at the Curragh is a little bit disappointing."

Foley's day to remember saw the jockey claim the Ulster Oaks on Camphor, supplying Jessica Harrington with a double.

Latoyah Of North led at the two-furlong marker but Foley quickly challenged to record a runaway success in the supporting feature.

Harrington said: "She will probably step up into Listed class - I think she deserves it. I thought after Navan she deserved to go to Listed class. I'd say she will get a mile and a half but not now."

The Harrington-trained Invincible Diva supplied the first of the day for Foley when always in command from the stalls to make all and claim the opening juvenile contest.

Harrington said: "She had great run first time and she did that well. Shane said she tries her heart out. The ground was probably a little bit slow for her but I had to take that chance.

"If the ground is good there's a five-furlong Stakes race in Tipperary coming up and she would love to hop off the quick ground."

Another highlight of Derby day was the sight of multiple champion jockey Pat Smullen, an Irish and English Derby winner, excelling in his role as pundit and looking great as he worked for television on the day.

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