AS the turf season looms large on the horizon Joseph O’Brien offered a portent of what will follow over the coming months as he notched up a double which was completed by San Andreas in the BetVictor Casino Race over a mile.
A tough, classy and reliable performer, the 105-rated son of Dark Angel was notching up the sixth win of his career, doing so just three weeks after finishing an honourable third in a valuable event in Qatar.
Jake Coen’s 7lbs claim further tipped the scales in favour of the Annus Mirabilis Syndicate-owned gelding who was sent off the 8/11 favourite. From well over a furlong out San Andreas appeared to have the measure of the Adrian McGuinness stablemates Casanova and Bowerman and he won with plenty to spare.
“He nearly came out too quick tonight, Jake said he was just dipping at the time and luckily the stalls opened,” said Brendan Powell. “For some reason he’s just got like that, he’s just got a bit panicky. What a star he is for the guys that own him, he’s done it again there nicely.
“We know he handles the grass and he looks fantastic, so we’ll just keep tipping away with him. He runs his race the whole time.”
Earlier, the O’Brien-trained Dances With Stars (13/8) secured his second success of the winter campaign in the BetVictor-sponsored mile-and-a-half handicap. The Charles Fipke-owned and -bred son of Sea The Stars was always nicely placed for Mikey Sheehy and went to the front with purpose inside the last quarter of a mile before eventually getting home by a length and three-parts.
“He’s a big horse and a late maturing horse even though he’s had a few runs. I think he could get better,” observed Powell.
Elsewhere, Eddie Lynam’s Linus Larrabee (4/1) ran out a stylish winner of the 45-65 rated handicap over seven furlongs.
While most of his rivals were scrambling to get into contention inside the last couple of furlongs, Declan McDonogh’s mount had eased to the front and he ran out a smooth length-and-a-quarter winner over Capla Knight. This was a second career success for the Lynam-owned five-year-old.
AFTER showing steady progression and promise in three runs in the autumn the Tom Mullins-trained Agatino returned with a victory in the mile maiden which would suggest that he has progressed nicely from two to three.
Ben Coen was on board the 74-rated 9/1 chance and he produced the Helen Mullins-ridden gelding with a telling challenge inside the last furlong.
Agatino was firmly on top in the closing stages and got home a length and a half ahead of the well backed favourite and newcomer Hibernia Oppositus who finished nicely.
“We thought a bit of him last year but he just wasn’t strong enough. He’s strong enough now and maybe he will stay a bit further,” reported Tom Mullins.
Tony Martin’s bright run of form under all codes continued in the mile-and-a-half apprentice handicap where Drakensberg (11/2) notched up the seventh win of his career.
Now a five-time winner on the Polytrack, the eight-year-old won well under Sam Ewing for whom he maintained a clear lead over the course of the last furlong to see off Nudge The Judge by just under two lengths.
“The horses are running well and he’s after coming back into a bit of good order. He’s slipped down the handicap which has helped a bit too,” declared Martin.
Another horse who has a clear fondness for the Polytrack is Tom McCourt’s Inishmot Prince who landed the 45-65 rated handicap over five furlongs.
The Oliver Curtis-owned homebred was 5lbs worse off with Collective Power whom he defeated over this course and distance last month, but he was able to beat that rival once more. Promising apprentice James Ryan got the four-year-old to the front inside the last furlong and Inishmot Prince lasted home by a neck.
Bunyan has big pots in mind for Blue
THE remarkable tale of Elzaam Blue continued in the mile handicap where the 800gns breeze-up sale purchase made it two wins from as many starts.
Darren Bunyan’s charge won a maiden on his debut over this course and distance last month and did better again to defy an opening mark of 75. The Siobhan Ni Cheallaigh-owned four-year-old struck the front for Chris Hayes with around a furlong to run and finished three-parts of a length ahead of Adapt To Dan.
This was a nice effort from this lightly raced gelding and he could easily progress further.
“The main worry we had was his lack of experience against good, seasoned handicappers as that’s always going to put you on the back foot,” observed Bunyan. “He’s a smart horse going forward. He won his maiden first time without seeing the surface before and he’s run there tonight against seasoned handicappers.
“He’ll run beforehand to get a bit more experience into him, but there are a couple of big pots on Guineas and Derby weekend that I think he’s made for.”
An industrious winter season for Ger O’Leary continued when Satin Snake (6/4) gave the trainer his seventh win of the campaign in the three-year-old claimer over a mile.
This Aclaim gelding produced a succession of solid efforts in nurseries in the closing stages of 2021 and deserved to get his turn.
Colin Keane produced him to lead passing the furlong pole and he kept on well to hold off the 11/10 favourite Form Of Praise by a length and a quarter.