The two finals on Saturday night’s the 12-race card at Dundalk Stadium – run as a benefit meeting for the Ellen Barron-McGee Fund - had contrasting finishes, Memories Dash taking the Emerald Casino 525 with ease and just over two lengths covering the field in the Stephen O’Connor OCAD Insurance 600.
Owned by the Co Meath-based Mediterranean Syndicate and trained by Martin Lanney, Memories Dash was second to Unknown Marina in the semi-finals, putting in a strong finish to be beaten a length-and-a-half. There was no need for home straight heroics this time.
The Scarty Lad dog was fast up and turning into the back went on from the Peter Noone-trained Fergus Run. He wasn’t troubled after that, and at the finish had just over three lengths to spare over Unknown Marina in a career-best 28.94. In a race in which half the field didn’t really get a look in, Fergus Run took third.
Bright Diamond was always at the head of affairs in the 600 decider, but it was by only a head that the locally-owned runner prevailed after the field had come together in the final fifty yards.
The son of Premier Fantasy and Miss Bright wore the red sheet and was outsider of the party. He dashed to the opening bend ahead of Corribal Boy before opening a two-length lead on the far side.
The order remained the same until they turned in. Then several of the others got into contention, and going to the line, Bright Diamond’s lead was greatly reduced. But to the delight of connections, headed by owners Dean Watters and Christopher Doyle, the August ‘09 held on to win by a head from the dead-heaters Castlegore Star and Mitsy. It was a half-length back to Lady Solerina, with Corribal Boy and Russelena Jude close up in fifth and sixth.
Winning for the fourth time on his 22nd outing, Bright Diamond improved on his semi-final run, recording 33.52.
The graded part of the card produced four local winners. First up in the second race was Belrobin House, running for the Kilkerley brothers, John and Tommy Woods. This lad won in effortless fashion over the 400, bringing up his eleventh career success.
Quay Celt was a scorer for the brothers, Paddy and Philip Kerr, making it home with a short-head to spare – and Gilford Driver was the winner of the first Open sprint to be run at the track in a while, the now-winner of eleven races doing the business for another set of brothers, Brian and Laurence Jones.
The four-timer was completed by Brisbane Bound, trained in Haggardstown by Pat Duffy and owned in partnership by Pat and Dundalk man, Harry Lawrence. Brisbane won by almost three lengths from Eoins Billy in 30.35, a smart return for the 550.
Raymond Bellew had a winner on Friday night, his Drumgower Dew coming a winner over the 525.
Suehail pips Exhortation by half a length
MEANWHILE in the horseacing, Suehail and Exhortation paid a compliment to Classic hopeful Akeed Mofeed when they fought out the finish of thetote.com Median Auction Maiden at Dundalk Stadium.
The favourite Exhortation looked to have made a decisive move when taking it up in the final quarter-mile this time, but Fergal Lynch had him covered on Suehail (7-1) and David Marnane’s colt got up close home to score by half a length.
Gathering Power, fifth in the opening juvenile race of the new turf season at the Curragh, was odds-on favourite for the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Auction Maiden, but could not squeeze into the first three.
Jim Bolger, who took the Curragh contest, won withVerbal Honesty (9-2), who was always up with the pace and held Angela’s Dream by a head without being given a hard time by Rory Cleary.
Opa Loca and Sharalam filled the places behind subsequent Irish Lincolnshire winner Sharestan in a Curragh maiden last June and the market said they would fight out the finish of thetote.com Maiden.
The pair hit the front in the straight and it was thePaul Deegan-trained Sharalam (5-4 favourite) who proved the stronger, asserting in the final furlong under Kevin Manning to hold Sli Na Fiarana by a length.
Fran Berry has got off to a quick start on his return from injury and landed another victory when Eddie Lynam’s 10-11 favourite Akasaka demolished the opposition in thetote.com Claiming Race, clearing away to score by four and three-quarter lengths.
Darren Bunyan sent out his first winner as a trainer when Grey Danube (7-1) got the better of a duel with favourite Ferryview Place to take thetote.com Handicap for three-year-olds by a length under Leigh Roche.