Captain Ramius gave trainer Kevin Ryan back-to-back victories with a clear-cut triumph in the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup.
While last year’s winner Our Jonathan failed to make an impact this time round, it was 16-1 shot Captain Ramius, ridden by top Irish jockey Pat Smullen, who landed the spoils.
Sholaan took the field along until a furlong out where Captain Ramius was produced to storm into the lead, and he soon put the race to bed to win by two and a half lengths from 2008 hero Regal Parade (25-1) with 8-1 favourite Maarek a further length and a quarter away in third. Sholaan (16-1) was fourth.
Ryan, who also won this race with Advanced in 2007, said: “I’m delighted. We had four good horses going into the race.
“The ground is very testing out there. It’s very tacky and even soft-ground horses don’t go through it.
“He’s a tough horse. It’s great for the owners, they’ve let me do what I want with him. And I’m delighted for Pat, who’s come over from Ireland to ride him.
“This is the richest sprint handicap in Europe and it’s great to win it again.”
Smullen said: “I just wanted to get a good position from a bad draw.
“He’s a very straightforward horse and trained by a very good trainer.
“Kevin has always been a good supporter of mine when he sends horses to Ireland, so we have that connection. It’s great to win a big race like this.”
Russell - jumping will suit Cossack
Davy Russell is excited about the prospect of partnering three-time bumper winner Don Cossack over hurdles when the National Hunt season kicks into gear.
Fifth on his debut at Punchestown in May of last year, Gordon Elliott’s five-year-old was unbeaten last term, completing his hat-trick with a 17-length victory at Fairyhouse in April.
He is the ante-post favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at next year’s Cheltenham Festival and Russell believes the jumping game will not halt his progress.
“We actually schooled him before he ever ran last year and we also schooled him in between runs,” the champion jockey told At The Races.
“He has all that done, so all we’ll be doing is refreshing his memory. Every time we went to school him last year he never looked left or right and jumped great, so I couldn’t see why there’d be any problem this year.
“By all accounts he’s got bigger and stronger.”
First winner for Hickey with High
Highflying gave trainer Paul Hickey his first ever winner when he ran out a surprise winner of the Listowel Printing Works Maiden on the sixth day of the Listowel Festival.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien as a juvenile, the 14-1 chance was making his debut for Hickey and had ground to make up on odds-on favourite Pageboy entering the home straight.
The Galileo colt responded admirably to Kevin Manning’s urgings, though, and he reeled the market leader in close home before going on to score by a length and three-quarters.
“That’s my first winner and I’m delighted. It’s a monkey off my back,” said Hickey.
“I’ve had the licence nearly a year now but I’ve only had five individual runners. I’ve three two-year-olds and they’ve all been in the frame.
“I have to give special mention to my brother Michael who put a lot of work into this horse over the winter.”
Jackemil (3-1) wore down long-time leader Three Bells in the final furlong to land the John & Terry Morairty Memorial Handicap by half a length under Ben Curtis.
Trainer John Joe Walsh said: “She loved the ground. She’s not been in training that long, only a couple of months, and she’s come on with every run. Ben gave her a brilliant ride.”
Focus to swerve any fast ground
Graham Wylie insists Back In Focus will never be risked on fast ground following his sparkling chasing debut at Listowel.
The point-to-point graduate made a brilliant debut under Rules in a Grade Two novice hurdle at Haydock in February of last year, but suffered a leg injury at Aintree a couple of months later that sidelined him for over a year.
Second in a Tipperary hurdle race on his return and debut for Willie Mullins, he took to fences like a duck to water with an exemplary round of jumping in Thursday’s Kevin McManus Beginners Chase.
The owner said: “He was very impressive, but I think he does need that soft ground. He won first time for us at Haydock and then we ummed and ahhed whether to take him to Cheltenham and Aintree or not.
“We missed Cheltenham because we didn’t want to run him down that hill, but we took him to Aintree on fast ground and that was where he got his leg injury. We rued the day we did that so I think you’ll find that in the future, unless it’s soft ground, we’ll not risk him.
“He’s a lovely horse, he has a fantastic long stride and he just gallops and gallops. He had a few slightly sketchy jumps at the beginning, but once he got into his rhythm he was fantastic.
“I think where he goes from here will almost certainly be ground dependant, so let’s just hope it rains between now and next March! I’m sure Willie will be looking for some better races for him now, but I don’t know where he’ll go next.”
Extra meeting called at Dundalk
Horse Racing Ireland has announced an extra meeting to be held at Dundalk on Thursday.
Bad weather has forced all Flat races on the final day of the Listowel Festival to be cancelled, and an additional fixture on the all-weather has been announced.
The meeting will close for entries on today with declarations to run to be made by 10am on Wednesday
The time of the first race will be at 2.05pm.
Bolger and Russell smash target
Davy Russell and Jim Bolger were delighted to have raised far more than anticipated for the Irish Cancer Society.
The racing duo organised a ‘Hurling for Cancer Research’ match, which was played on the 14th August in Newbridge, Co.Kildare has raised 120,000 euros for charity.
In a statement, Russell and Bolger said: “We are very appreciative of the generosity shown by people from all over the Country with their support for this event.
“We would particularly like to thank the Irish Cancer Society, all the players, match officials and Newbridge G.A.A for the use of its pristine pitch and facilities.
“We set out to raise 50,000 euros and we are now very happy to report that in fact you contributed 120,000. Thank you all for your great generosity.”