THE inaugural Goff’s Sportsman Challenge went for export as the Tom Dascombe-trained Felix Natalis continued on an upward curve to claim the lion’s share of the €100,000 pot.

Seamie Heffernan kept things simple on the Harry Angel colt as he made all and dominated proceedings in the race, run over just shy of six furlongs.

The well backed 7/2 shot (8/1 in morning) kept on strongly when asked for an effort a furlong from home to post a two-length win over 10/3 joint-favourite Miami Girl.

Felix Natalis had cost €20,000 at the sale last October. His initial success back in July had been a first for Dascombe since his move to Lambourn, following a high profile split with Michael Owen’s Manor House Stables late last year.

“It’s been an unbelievable journey these last 10 months and I’ve been lucky enough to have some really, really good people stick with me,” Dascombe said.

“This horse left me on December 12th because the owners didn’t want him to be trained by someone they hadn’t chosen and he came back to me on April 1st because by then I’d got a yard.

“That little boy, Felix Natalis – what a superstar. He’s never let me down, he’s learned on the job, he’s run good race after good race and today he smashed it. We probably ought to sell him now, but I won’t!”


The win completed a double on the card for Heffernan who had also struck on board Spirit Gal for Willie Browne in the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden.

It was a similar story with the Charles Fipke-owned daughter of Invincible Spirit as she made all and proved a couple of lengths too strong for fellow 9/4 joint-favourite American Sonja.

Michael Browne was representing his brother Willie and he said: “It think she’s a good filly. She’s in a listed race at Fairyhouse, she’ll go for a bit of black-type and I think she’ll get it.

“There are a few races coming up for her, one in Dundalk and there is also one in France that he was thinking about for her. She’s a smart filly and Seamie likes her a lot.”

Harrington has discovered a gem

THERE was good word for a few of the runners in the concluding Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden but the Jessica Harrington-trained Bold Discovery proved too strong for his rivals.

Shane Foley made all on the 15/2 shot and he stayed on strongly in the closing stages to post a two-and-a-half length win over Peking Opera in the seven-furlong contest.

Assistant trainer Kate Harrington said of the US-bred son of Bolt D’Oro: “That was very impressive and he’s a gorgeous horse.


“He only came to us in June and has always done everything so easy. Obviously his sire is a sensation in America on the dirt and it’s exciting for him to have a turf horse here.

“We’ll have a chat with the owners (Fergus Galvin and Marc Detampel) and see where he goes next. He’s very exciting for next season.”

Foley was doubling up on the card following the earlier victory of Wakai Umi in the Care At Home Services Nursery.

The Ciaran Murphy-trained daughter of Kuroshio was soon in front in the five-furlong contest and the 12/1 shot came up the favoured stand’s side to record a length-and-a-half win over McCauley’s Tavern.

Murphy said: “She’s has been slightly tricky but now she’s straightened out and she’s come good.

“She’s always shown that speed and it’s lovely that she’s now matured with racing. Fair play to the owners (Ballymullen Stud Farm) as they’ve been patient.”


In the other nursery on the card Jim Bolger’s Aurifodina sprang a 22/1 shock in the GAIN sponsored event over a mile.

Luke McAteer produced his mount with a strong run inside the final furlong to get up late on for a neck success over Malbay Madness.

Travelling head lad Ger Flynn said afterwards: “She ran well the last day in Galway but got a little outpaced coming up the hill and got shuffled back. She was coming home really well.

“Today there was plenty of pace in the race and Luke just bided his time. He came up the outside where all the winners seem to be coming from today.”

Plenty keeps his A-game for the track

JOHNNY Murtagh admitted to being surprised by the victory of Bay Of Plenty in the colts and geldings maiden over the extended five furlongs.

The New Bay gelding, a 9/1 shot in the market, found the door closed in his face when trying to make ground between horses a furlong and a half from home.

Ben Coen’s mount got clear inside the final furlong and quickened up smartly to post a length-and-a-quarter success over Pier Pressure.

“That was a nice surprise. We thought he trialled okay (at Dundalk) but he got tired the last little bit,” said Murtagh.

“I was talking to (owner) Tony Smurfit and he asked me if he was a good horse and I said well he’s a handy horse and he’s tough and he’s hardy.

“We have him in a claimer next Monday so I don’t think we’ll go there! We might be a bit more ambitious than that.

“We’ll have to stick him in a stakes race or winners race and see where he is.”

Andy Oliver is also eyeing a step up in grade with Betterdaysrcoming after his convincing win in the Irish EBF Auction Series Maiden.

Billy Lee produced the 11/8 favourite to lead inside the final furlong and he went on to beat Encosta by a length and a half in the seven-furlong contest.

Oliver said: “He deserved that. We wanted a nice big galloping track and it looks like he wants every yard of a mile.

“He’s in the auction race final here next month and I wouldn’t discount stepping him up into stakes company.

“There is the Eyrefield Stakes and a couple of other options. His companion is in the Beresford next week, a horse that hasn’t run yet. It’s something I would consider, I know it’s big talk, but it does seem that he wants the mile now.”