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Stellar performance delights family duo Bolger and Manning

By Ron McKnight

It was a case of happy family at Down Royal's big Magners Ulster Derby day when Kevin Manning steered Stellar Mass to victory in the £100,000 showpiece for father-in-law Jim Bolger.

Stellar Mass scorched home to give the trainer his fifth win in the race, while Manning was also triumphant in 2014 on board Wexford Town.

"They went a solid pace. He travelled well throughout and the step up in trip helped. He had good form and was entitled to do that," said Manning.

And the duo doubled up on the day when Admodum won the finale, getting the better of odds-on favourite Ex Patriot.

Newmarket trainer Ed Dunlop pledged to return after sending over Manjaam which finished second in the Ulster Derby.

"I was delighted by the run from the horse," said Dunlop.

"He had a couple of traffic problems in the straight but still would not have beaten the winner," he added.

"I would return to Down Royal in the future if I had the right horse for the race."

The longstanding partnership of Curragh trainer Dermot Weld and champion jockey Pat Smullen - the duo claiming this month's Epsom Derby with Harzand - landed the Ulster Oaks with Simannka which led at the furlong marker and won easily.

The well bred filly is owned by His Highness The Aga Khan who also owned and bred third placed Rayiisa.

The second placed, Glenmayne trained by Jessica Harrington, turned in an eye catching display and is owned and bred by the Jennings family of Carrowdore Castle under their Stonethorn Stud Farms banner.

Smullen, who was in demand from numerous trainers last week at Royal Ascot, said: "She travelled beautifully and got down behind His Highness's other filly there in the straight and if anything I probably got there a shade too soon.

"She quickened up well and she's one of those progressive fillies.

"If needs be she could step up in trip but she's not slow either. She had a turn of foot there. A mile and a quarter right now is probably okay for her.

"You get wiped out and knocked out of the race here if you don't have pace to travel. She had that in abundance. I could go wherever I wanted. I got the gap when I needed it. To be fair she found a whole lot to the line.

"She's progressing along nicely and I suppose the handicapper will decide where we go next."

While local trainers failed to get to the winning post first on the day, Norville filled second behind Jembatt in the Value Cabs Handicap for Moira trainer Lee Smyth who was attempting to register a third annual victory on Ulster Derby day.

Caledon based trainer Andy Oliver saw his runner Power Struggle finish fourth in the feature contest and Could Should Would fill third in the Down Royal Handicap behind Brokopondo.

Confrontational - backed in from 16/1 to 5/1 - is a two-year-old to note after winning the opener in a fast time of 1.02 minutes and is held in high esteem by his trainer John Joseph Murphy.

Winning jockey Shane Foley said of the exciting youngster, which might have been the best horse to win on the day: "He's held in high regard.

"John ran him in a listed race on his debut and he holds several future entries.

"He's a lovely horse and six furlongs will be no problem," he added.

Confrontational is entered for the Group One Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh in August.

Meanwhile, Ulster jockey Martin Harley partnered a winner at Royal Ascot on Saturday following on from third place in the Gold Cup on Sheikhzayedroad behind Order Of St George - a Down Royal winner last year - on Thursday.

The local rider prevailed on Outback Traveller from Brando in a photo finish in the Wokingham Stakes for trainer Robert Cowell who excels with his sprinters.

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