THERE was the rare sight on an Irish racecourse of an objection at Dundalk on Wednesday when connections of runner-up Pro Bono objected to French Company, the winner of the first division of the Dundalk Winter Series Championship Handicap.

French Company (16/1) had beaten 7/2 favourite Pro Bono by half a length, but drifted left towards that rival approaching the final furlong and again deep in the final furlong.

Pro Bono’s trainer Cormac Farrell lodged an objection, but the result stood after the stewards viewed the recording and considered the evidence from both jockeys.

French Company’s trainer Jimmy Coogan said: “He has won around here before and he had had a run over hurdles and hopefully he will go on hurdling now.”

French Company won in the colours of the trainer’s wife Annette.

Billy Lee was back in action for the first time this year and it proved to be a profitable day as he landed a double.


It was over 11 years since he last rode a horse for Mick Halford and the pair reminisced about that fact after they teamed up with Havana Pearl in the second division of the Dundalk Winter Series Championship Handicap over the extended mile and a quarter.

This was a step up in trip for the daughter of Camelot who led approaching the straight and wasn’t lacking in stamina in the final furlong as she strode in by two and a half lengths at 11/2 for owner Michael Enright.

Halford said: “She has a lovely pedigree, her dam (Golden Pearl) won over six furlongs for us first time out (in Fairyhouse).

“She’s a bit too keen and hard on herself. She has been settling better this season with the winter and that, and we just thought she was worth a step up in trip.

“Ronan (Whelan) is in Australia on holidays, so delighted to use Billy when we got the opportunity. He just reminded me that it is a long time since he rode a horse for us.”

Tony Martin’s Firstman was well backed (2/1 - 13/8f) for the View Restaurant At Dundalk Stadium Handicap and delivered under Lee.

The six-year-old gelding tried two miles for the first time and Lee rode a patient race before sending his mount about his business entering the straight. The pair hit the front over a furlong from home and kept on well to score by two and a half lengths.

No gallop

Martin said: “There was no pace to it, so it really wasn’t a proper two-mile race. Billy said he was behind the bridle there and things couldn’t have gone better because there was no gallop and he switched off at the back. He has been lucky for the boys (Keep Your Distance Syndicate) and we’ll see what he is like in a week or two and make a plan from there.”

Escobar comes up with the goods

MR Escobar built upon a promising runner-up berth last month when justifying 5/6 favouritism in the Maiden over a mile and a half.

The five-year-old gelding was strongly pressed by Isotta racing to the final furlong, but found plenty to beat her by a length and a quarter for trainer Joseph Murray and owner Aine Ryan.

Jockey Robbie Colgan said: “On every run he has improved and I think he will keep improving again. He kind of idled a bit and got going again towards the line, I couldn’t pull him up.”

Iva Feeling (3/1 favourite) grabbed her second success over the mile on the Polytrack when running on well for Jake Coen after picking up the lead approaching the final furlong in the Book Online At Handicap over a mile.

Owner/trainer Shane Crawley said of the two-length winner: “She has had a few niggly problems, she is 17.1hh and she just took plenty of time.

“She’s a six-year-old now and she has a bit of a pedigree and it may be time to think about covering her. In the flat game you don’t be long in seeing time going, we’ll see now.”

Kuwait toughes it out for victory

KUWAIT Direction was always prominent in the first division of the Crowne Plaza Dundalk Race & Stay Handicap and proved tough in the latter stages as he fended off No Speed Limit by three quarters of a length at 6/1 under Gavin Ryan.

“He’s pretty straightforward. I think the trick was he got a little bit of a holiday over Christmas because the last day he probably just didn’t fire. We freshened him up over the Christmas period and planned for this race a few weeks in advance,” said handler Keith Clarke.

The six-year-old gelding scored for Alistair Porter and Phoenix Bloodstock Syndicate.

First-time blinkers helped Betrayed (9/1) resume winning ways in the second divide of the Crowne Plaza Dundalk Race and Stay Handicap.

Leanne Breen’s charge soon led and made the rest for Robert Whearty before holding a challenging Jazzy Dancer by a head.

Very keen

Owner/trainer Breen said: “She’s very keen and Robert just tried to keep a hold of her as best he could. She’s as sweet as anything and has been tipping down the beach. The more running, the better she is getting.”

Willie Browne’s Stormy Entry rewarded favourite backers in the concluding Floodlit Fridays At Dundalk Race over seven furlongs.

Seamie Heffernan sent him on over a furlong from home and the pair came in by half a length from newcomer Miami Thunder who attracted plenty of support.

Browne said of the 13/8 favourite, owned by Charles Fipke: “He improved for the (extra) furlong. He ran a little bit differently tonight, a bit keen. I suppose second run he was probably a bit smarter and wiser. I just thought he might have settled a bit better.”