Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien sent two horses to Dundalk on Friday, and they both won.
Firstly, Congo River justified his short price (4/7) in landing the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race for two-year-olds, the opening race on the card. He was made to work for the win, though, because Dontspoilasale pressed him all the way to the line, eventually losing out by just a neck.
The runner-up is trained by County Down-based Natalia Lupini, whose horses have been in fine form over the last few months. She’s a trainer to watch out for.
The winner is a son of Mendelssohn, who won a Grade 1 race at the hugely valuable Breeders’ Cup meeting in the USA in 2017 before landing a Kentucky Derby qualifier at Dundalk on his way to breaking the track record at Meydan in the UAE Derby.
His 2018 Kentucky Derby run was severely hampered by torrential rain that fell in the build-up to the race and he retired to stud later in the year. His first foals made it to racing age this year.
The double was completed by Gulliver’s Travels (8/11 fav), who made just about all of the running to win the Join Us On Instagram @dundalk_stadium Race. Both of Aidan's winners were ridden by Wayne Lordan.
The winner has a lovely pedigree, being by champion sire Galileo out of a mare called Prudenzia, who has so far produced eight winners, including Group 1-winner Magic Wand and 2013 Irish Oaks heroine, Chicquita.
The Paddy Twomey-trained Arinniti easily justified his short price of 1/2 in the card’s second race, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Median Auction Maiden, in the hands of championship-chasing Billy Lee. This win took him one ahead of Colin Keane in the race for the Irish jockeys' title.
The card’s five handicaps looked tricky beforehand but Darkdeserthighway made a mockery of that view by running out an easy winner of division one of the Irishinjuredjokceys.com Handicap in the hands of Dylan Browne McMonagle, who on Sunday landed the first Group 1 success of his young career on the Joseph O’Brien-trained Al Riffa in the National Stakes at the Curragh.
The Michael O’Callaghan-trained winner had been available at 20/1 on the morning of the race but was returned as the 7/2 favourite. Someone, somewhere, clearly knew something.
Dylan also landed the second division of the handicap, also in easy fashion, as Coviglia (11/2) strode clear up the centre of the track to score for Letterkenny trainer, Charlie Moore.
"He loves it here," said Charlie of a horse that has won twice from three visits to the Stadium and has earned prize money in each of his last five runs.
Ado McGuinness landed his eleventh Dundalk winner of 2022 - a number bettered only by Joseph O'Brien (13) - when Hodd's Girl (8/1) won the View Restaurant At Dundalk Stadium Handicap in the hands of apprentice Adam Caffrey.
Joupe (10/3) then became the fourth winning favourite on the night when collaring Cozone right on the line under Daniel King in the William Hill Bet Boost Apprentice Handicap to gain a third win from her last four visits to Dundalk for owner/trainer Peter Lawlor.
The card’s final race, the Find Us On Twitter @DundalkStadium Handicap, provided Ben Coen with a winner on his 21st birthday when Draco Pulchrac (6/1), who travelled smoothly throughout the contest, powered clear up the home straight to win well for trainer Tony Martin.
Ben’s career really has started to take off and he now rides as stable jockey to Johnny Murtagh. Together they have already enjoyed Group 1 successes and it’s hard to believe that he rode his first winner as recently as November 2017 as a 17 year-old. That victory came on Timia for trainer Keith Clarke. The venue? Dundalk Stadium.
Dundalk will race again on Friday 23rd September. The provisional start time is 5:30pm, but this will become 5pm if a race divides, which is highly likely given the popularity of racing at the Stadium.
The feature race is the Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Diamond Stakes, a Listed race worth €40,000 that will be run over a distance of ten furlongs and 150 yards. We look forward to seeing you there.
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