NORMANDEL clung on grimly to win a thrilling renewal of the Group 3 Lodge Park Stud Irish EBF Park Express Stakes at Naas.
With trainer Jim Bolger and jockey Kevin Manning having already enjoyed two winners on the season-opening card, Normandel was a 14/1 shot to complete a 5,354/1 treble in this one-mile contest.
Dermot Weld’s 6/4 favourite favourite Yulong Gold Fairy looked to be travelling the best approaching the final furlong – but she was unable to reel in the game Normandel, who kept finding under the Manning drive.
The Fozzy Stack-trained Hand On Heart (20/1) flashed home from further back to almost join Normandel on the line, but the judge confirmed Bolger’s charge had held on by a head.
Yulong Gold Fairy was only half a length further away in third.
5,354-1 treble for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning! Normandel lands the Group 3 Park Express Stakes on a memorable season opener for trainer and jockey at @NaasRacecourse— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 24, 2019
Results ? https://t.co/glajGV55GR pic.twitter.com/9OAnjRdsDv
Bolger said: “She ran well here at the back-end (of last season). I only had her for a while after she came from France. She got a bit tired in the last furlong that day, and we expected that she could build on it.
“She will stay at around seven furlongs or a mile. She won a listed race in France at a mile and a quarter, but I think she’s better at seven or a mile.
“She handles that ground well. She’s a very sound filly, and I’d imagine she will go on better ground as well.”
READ THE FULL NAAS REPORT IN NEXT WEEKEND'S EDITION OF THE IRISH FIELD