Layfayette came with a powerful late run to cap a fine week for trainer Noel Meade with victory in the Paddy Power Irish Lincolnshire at the Curragh on Sunday.
A brilliant finish for the feature! ??— The Curragh Racecourse (@curraghrace) March 21, 2021
Layfayette picks them off late, digging deep to land the @PaddyPower Irish Lincolnshire under @chrishayes24 ??
The @tuvastables team take home the prize ??#TheFlatIsBack #OnYourTurf #Curragh pic.twitter.com/rITFgoxxFX
Meade, who is better known for his exploits over jumps, produced the shock of Cheltenham with Jack Kidder at 80/1 in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
Layfayette was much more fancied at 8/1 and delivered the goods under a patient ride from Chris Hayes, as he dropped down to a mile for the first time since July.
Quizical was one of the early leaders with Star Of Cashel, Agitare and In From The Cold among those close-up in the 24-runner field.
With the field spread across the course, there was enough room for Hayes to get through in the final furlong and stamp his authority in the race.
Layfayette went on to win by half a length from Maker Of Kings, with Comfort Line another half a length away in third and Star Of Cashel a neck back in fourth.
“It’s nice when a plan comes together. We’ve always loved him and I gelded him during the winter,” said Meade.
“I spoke to Chris the other day and I said ‘I think the mile is too short, will I put blinkers on him?’. I put cheekpieces on him and he said they made some difference to him.
“The first day he ran here last year the ground was very quick and it took him a long time to get over it as he was sore after the run.
“He’s quite a nice horse and hopefully he’ll be able to build on that.”
He went on: “He’s not a hurdler, he’s not that shape, and he has quite a flicky action.
“A mile and a quarter will probably suit him better, and he was second over a mile and a half.
“He was entitled to win a good one because he’s been knocking on the door.
“I’m delighted for the owner, too, because he hasn’t had a lot of luck lately.”
Jim Bolger’s apparent second-string Missing Matron landed the opening two-year-old maiden.
A field of eight unraced juveniles went to post for the first race of the Irish flat turf season – a race Bolger has won on several occasions in recent years.
The Coolcullen trainer was doubly represented, with Kevin Manning aboard 7/1 chance Freedom Of Speech, and Rory Cleary partnering 16/1 shot Missing Matron.
A smart start allowed the latter to grab an early lead and the further the daughter of Vocalised went the better she looked – passing the post with almost five lengths in hand over It’ll Do My Day, with Freedom Of Speech a creditable third.
Bolger was represented by his daughter, Una Manning, who said: “I just spoke to him there now and he said she has the makings of a very nice filly.
“She has a big future. She did it very well, she handled the ground well and did it like a pro.
“He thought that whichever one of them handled the ground best, that was hard to know in advance, obviously, and she just seemed to handle it a bit better than the other filly.
“She’s something to look forward to and it’s great to be back racing.”
Joan Of Arc gave Aidan O’Brien an early first winner of the campaign when landing the odds in the Big Picture Communications Fillies & Mares Maiden.
The 4/6 favourite was a workmanlike scorer as she took the seven-furlong contest by a length and a quarter from 80/1 newcomer Approach The Dawn in the hands of Ryan Moore.
Joan Of Arc, who finished second on her debut at Dundalk in November, is impeccably-bred being a sister to Group 1 winners Gleneagles, Marvellous and Happily.
O’Brien is thinking of running her in a classic trial at Leopardstown next.
“You’d be delighted with her. Ryan said she’d be happier on nicer ground and won’t mind going up to a mile either,” said the Ballydoyle handler. We might have a look at the Guineas trial at Leopardstown for her.
“It’s tough going out there first time. He said he was very comfortable on her.”
Downforce mowed down long-time leader Indigo Balance to take the Paddy Power “From The Horse’s Mouth” Podcast Handicap.
Willie McCreery’s nine-year-old knuckled down well for 5lb claimer Nathan Crosse to hit the front in the closing stages of the five-furlong dash.
Downforce (11/1) collared Indigo Balance, who ploughed a lone furrow on the far side of the course in the final half-furlong, to score by two and three-quarter lengths. Ecclesiastical was a head away fourth.
McCreery was also represented by seventh-placed Gobi Desert and said: “It must be tacky enough. I thought all week that it was drying out too much for the two of them, but Nathan said he loved it.
“He jumped out, barrelled along the whole way, and enjoyed himself.
“We’ll go back down to Cork in two weeks for the listed race that he has won twice.
“It’s great to see him back. He didn’t win a race last year, but was third in a Listed race towards the end of last year and is a good little money earner for Donal Finnan so I’m delighted.”