JOSEPH O’Brien is the leading trainer at Dundalk this year and brought his tally on the Polytrack to 18 winners, five ahead of Ado McGuinness, when sending out a 246/1 double in the two maiden races on this mid-week afternoon card with Hogmanay and Sheer Chance.

Hogmanay, the outsider at 18/1 of three newcomers from the Carriganog yard in the View Restaurant At Dundalk Stadium Median Auction Maiden and sporting the colours of O’Brien’s mother Annemarie, led a furlong out and kept on well under Dylan Browne McMonagle to beat Blue News by three-quarters of a length.

O’Brien’s assistant Brendan Powel said, “I know he’s been doing everything well at home but they had to geld him as he was a bit of a cheeky monkey.

“He’s tough, hardy and will stay further. For his first time out it was good and he didn’t have a barrier trial. He’s not the biggest in the world but has enough size and I think he will go forward.”

Sheer Chance (12/1) certainly didn’t lack for experience and finally opened her account at the 16th attempt in the Floodlit Fridays At Dundalk Maiden, striking the front in the closing stages under Alan Persse to best stablemate Bold Ribb by a head.

Winning bracket

“It’s nice to get a winning bracket with her as Max (Morris) is an owner/breeder. She was rated 82 last year and then lost her way but he’s brought her back fresh.

“Alan has taken the 7lb off and given her a great ride,” said Powell.

Rhapsody lands Cromwell gamble

MUSICAL Rhapsody continued a good recent run for trainer Gavin Cromwell when landing a gamble (16/1 overnight and sent off 100/30 jt favourite) in the Now Racing Every Wednesday At Dundalk Handicap.

Gary Carroll’s mount made headway early in the straight and got on top in the closing stages to beat A Shin Undine by half a length.

“She won a barrier trial here but her last two runs on the grass were terrible. She had excuses as the ground was bottomless the last day and before that in Thurles she was knocked sideways.

“She clearly handles this surface well and I think we’ll keep going with her,” said Cromwell, who trains the filly for owner/breeders Helen and Mark Keaveney.

Good form

Michael Halford also has his team in good form at present and Kampala Beach was another to justify good support in division one of the Christmas Party Nights At Dundalk Stadium Handicap.

Available at 8/1 overnight and backed into 3/1 on track, the Belardo gelding led inside the final furlong under Ronan Whelan to beat Numidia by three-quarters of a length.

“He’s just a big, weak horse and is better suited by that surface. It has taken a while to work him out and I thank Mark Phelan for being so patient with him.

“I think he’ll have plenty of fun with him and he has the size and scope to progress. He can only get stronger,” said Halford before adding: “This place has been very good to us over the years and we had our 300th winner here last week.”

Matilda With Me was only confirmed the winner in division two of this extended 10-furlong event after a stewards’ enquiry as Colin Keane’s mount edged left and nudged Dark Street in the closing stages when beating that rival by a neck.

A rather nervous Rodger Sweeney, who trains the 10/1 winner for Thomas Murphy, said before the result was confirmed: “She’s tough and has won three before and had a good few seconds as well. It took four and a quarter hours to get here as she will only go in the lorry. She wouldn’t go into the jeep and box.”

The former Cork All-Ireland winning hurler Mark Landers had his colours carried to success in the opening two-mile Handicap where Paddy Harnett replaced Jake Coen (unwell) aboard the Ken Budds-trained Getaway Queen.

The well-backed (12/1 - 15/2) mare was recording her fifth course win and eighth in total when leading inside the final furlong to beat Roman Song by half a length.

Harnett said: “She travelled super the whole way, the pace was even and when the gaps came she took them easily. She does get lazy in front but that is probably not a bad thing either.”

‘Longtime goes in again

NOTFORALONGTIME backed up a victory here last month when again scoring over a mile in the Book Online At Handicap.

The 5/1 chance travelled smoothly to challenge early in the straight but needed a strong drive by Mark Enright inside the final furlong to hold off Tynamite by a head.

“He is rejuvenated since I started coming up here and Mark was very good on him again. He’s come with his problems and has taken a lot of sweetening up but he’s turned inside out now,” said owner/trainer Laura Hourigan.

Dandyville, a three-time winner last year and runner-up here on his latest start, justified 5/2 favouritism in the DKITSU Race Night Handicap when ridden clear inside the final furlong by Wayne Lordan to beat Collective Power by a length and three-quarters.

“He has dropped down to a very competitive mark and six is his trip. We’ll talk to the owners (Dr J Syndicate) and see if we go again here or put him away and start again for the turf season,” said Craigavon trainer Natalia Lupini.