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DUNDALK FRIDAY: Halford and Smullen lead the way on an evening of drama
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DUNDALK FRIDAY: Halford and Smullen lead the way on an evening of drama
on 03 March 2017
Halford wins the first three races on the card while Smullen went on to enjoy a treble of his own

AN evening of high drama, where Michael Halford and Pat Smullen recorded a treble apiece, saw apprentice Danny Sheehy suffer a broken leg following a fall in the last, while Johnny Murtagh and Seamie Heffernan were in hot water with the stewards.

Firstly Sheehy was involved in a chilling incident at the end of the card when his mount Mosman clipped a heel after going a furlong which resulted in the jockey taking a crashing fall.

Sheehy appeared to be struck by one of the following runners and received treatment on the track for some time before being brought to hospital. It later emerged that he had suffered a broken tibia.

After an enquiry into the incident the stewards deemed that Mosman accidentally clipped a heel. In the same enquiry, clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer and Thomas McGivern, the race stopping flagman, were interviewed concerning the procedures in place at Dundalk for stopping a race.

After hearing their evidence the stewards referred the matter to the Turf Club for further investigation.

The stewards’ room was the focus of attention earlier in the evening after a running and riding enquiry was held into Tobacco Bay’s six-length fifth in the maiden won by Zinat.

After hearing evidence from both Johnny Murtagh and Seamie Heffernan, the stewards found them to be in breach of Rule 212A (ii). This resulted in Murtagh being fined €2,000, Heffernan picked up a five-day ban which would rule him out of the opening day of the 2017 flat season, while Tobacco Bay was banned from racing for 42 days.

SMOOTH WIN

On the track, Halford and Smullen held sway and they combined to land the Elusive Pimpernel Fillies’ Maiden with the aforementioned Zinat (4/7).

Following her encouraging debut second to Magen’s Moon in January, the Aga Khan-owned daughter of Holy Roman Emperor made all the running for a straightforward two and a quarter-length triumph over Secret Memories.

“Her previous experience helped her. We’ve no plans and we’ll see what the handicapper does. A mile looks far enough for her at the moment,” said Halford.

The trainer’s treble concluded when a back to form Shannon Soul secured the mile handicap. The gelding (4/1) lined up looking for his first win since December 2014 and a tardy start didn’t aid his cause.

However, Conor Hoban’s mount had latched on to the heels of the leaders turning for home and then came with a steady charge to lead early in the last furlong. The Michael Enright-owned and bred five-year-old, who was wearing first time blinkers, defeated Geological by two and a half lengths.

“He just hasn’t had the best of draws on a few occasions and he was badly hampered here last time,” said Halford.

“He’s been inclined to give things away at the gates but the small field was a help and sometimes these horses get a lot of confidence when they get their head in front. I’m delighted for Michael Enright who has been very patient with him.”

Earlier, the ultra-reliable Chestnut Fire ended his time with Halford by taking the one mile claimer. The five-time winner, who was subsequently claimed by Adrian McGuinness for €20,000, looked the class act of this race with a rating of 92 and had no difficulty justifying 8/13 favouritism.

Conor Hoban exuded the utmost confidence in the Paul Rooney-owned gelding, who quickened smartly entering the last furlong to a comfortable half-length defeat of Elusive In Paris.

“He had the form and he was weighted to win it,” declared Halford. “We just felt that he might be in the grip of the handicapper which is why we put him in the claimer.”

CLEAR WIN

Meanwhile, Pat Smullen teamed up with a decent looking sort in the Darren Bunyan newcomer Beat The Bank (4/1) who was the clear-cut winner of the Elusive Pimpernel Median Auction Maiden. The Paco Boy gelding had this seven-furlong contest under control from early in the straight and he finished two and three-quarter lengths ahead of the newcomer Vincy.

The winner was one of three yearlings that Bunyan bought for the Straight To Victory Syndicate at the 2015 yearling sales. The others were the Marble Hill Stakes second Mister Trader and the Group 3 victor Hit The Bid.

“He’s been impressing us at home and I’d have been disappointed if he was beaten,” remarked Bunyan.

“He showed us last year that he was well up to winning a maiden but he just grew and went a little weak so we gave him time. If he’s not sold he could be back here in a few weeks for the Fast Track Qualifier.”

The Smullen treble concluded with Serefeli (5/2) whose victory in the 45-65 rated 10-furlong handicap was overshadowed by the fall of Mosman.

As he looked to add this race to a triumph here the previous month, Serefeli battled well over the last furlong to see off Six Silver Lane, who lost second to Trump Card on the line.

“We’ll freshen him up for the turf now,” report Peter Fahey, who trains the winner for the Unidentified Partnership. “He was selected for us at the sales by Tom Keane and I think he’s going to be a lovely fun horse on the grass in the summer. He’s had a few issues that we’ve ironed out.”

Johnny Levins and Donagh O’Connor ended the evening with a double that featured a triumph for the top-weight Brokopondo in the mile and a half apprentice riders’ handicap.

A patient O’Connor kept Brokopondo in midfield for much of the race before the pair cruised into contention early in the straight. The 7/1 shot then knuckled down well under pressure to see off the game pace setter New Direction by half a length.

“He’s been a superstar for us and tonight he benefitted from a very clever ride from Donagh,” declared Levins, whose charge has only once finished outside the first five in 14 outings at this track.

Arlecchino’s Rock, whose first three runs of the year had indicated that he should get his turn, pounced late in the 45-65 rated handicap over seven furlongs to provide Levins and O’Connor with their initial success.

The 10/1 chance was no better than midfield with over a furlong to run but he burst into the lead as the line loomed to secure a short-head win over the strong-finishing Windsorlot.

“He battled well and I hope he could be one who will win a couple of more races for us,” stated Levins of the Rory Browne-owned gelding.

Joseph O’Brien’s Ligeti showed that he remains ahead of the handicapper in the first divide of the 45-65 rated handicap over an extended 10 furlongs.

An ultra cool Ana O’Brien judged things to perfection on Michael Tabor’s 4/5 favourite as she came from almost last turning in to lead inside the distance for a cosy half-length victory.

Riding ban

RONAN Whelan, who rode the runner-up Cristy’s Call, was given a one-day careless riding ban.

ACTING STEWARDS N.B. Wachman, A. Byrne, R. Hall, J. Hunt, P.D. Matthews

HORSE TO FOLLOW VINCY (M. Halford): This Elzaam colt made a bright start to his career by chasing home the well-backed Beat The Bank in the median auction maiden. He can be relied upon to progress from this initial experience and could well make his mark in a maiden in the coming weeks.

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