IN THE week that was in it, with the Keanes, Robbie and Roy, dominating the sporting headlines and generating contrasting emotions among Irish sports fans, it was somehow appropriate that a family bearing the same surname should take one of the major prizes at last Tuesday's race meeting at Sligo.
Trainer, Gerry Keane from County Meath, and his son, Colin, a 7lb claiming jockey, combined to win the Sligo Champion Handicap with The Fox Tully.
The seven year old had won at Fairyhouse six days earlier and carried the form on to Sligo. Despite carrying a 6lb penalty, he sprinted clear of the 3-1 favourite, Sheila's Wish, on the run in to come home by a length and a quarter. The winner had been widely tipped to run a big race but drifted in the betting, going out from 5/2 to 100/30.
'He's a grand horse and takes no training once he's fit', reported the winning trainer.
One of the best horses in action on the night appeared in the Ireland's Own race. Goldplated, who had run in two Group Three races recently, took a big drop in class and returned to winning ways with an impressive victory. Elusive Ridge went off as the 5/4 favourite in a four horse field but Goldplated, under a confident ride from Ricky Doyle, took up the running three furlongs from home and stayed on gamely to take the spoils. Mojita finished strongly to pip the favourite for second place. It was Doyle's fourth winner of his career and his first as a 7lb claimer.
County Tyrone trainer, Andy Oliver, had three runners in the opening Irish Stallions Farms European Breeders Fund Auction Maiden and was delighted to have the first two home. Hard Core Debt, who was backed in from 6/1 to 9/2 on the strength of a promising Leopardstown debut, took the spoils under a great ride by Shane Foley, with stablemate, Fontan Di Trevi, the 11/4 favourite, taking second place. Jim Bolger's Strapless was third at 4/1
If ever the saying 'horses for courses' was appropriate, it certainly fitted the bill for Mighty Whitey who landed the Family Day 15th July at Sligo claiming race. The Noel Kelly trained gelding was enjoying his third success at the track, having already won a bumper and a maiden hurdle at Sligo.
The 16/1 shot turned in a brave front running performance under Billy Lee and never looked like being caught, although last year's winner, Gra Geal Mo Chroi, put in late rally to finish two and a quarter lengths behind the winner.
The winning trainer felt the cut in the ground and the horse's obvious liking for Sligo were key to Mighty Whitey's first win on the flat.
'He likes it here better than anywhere else' confirmed Derry-based trainer, Kelly.
Local owner, Michael Farrell, had reason to celebrate after Snap Alam, trained in Meath by Joanna Morgan, won the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund fillies handicap in good style. Running at a distance of less than seven furlongs for the first time, the three-times winner was given a great ride by Declan McDonagh and was returned at attractive odds of 11/2.
Bubby Bellini, who won at Limerick three days earlier, followed up in the best possible way with an impressive victory in the Audi Sligo Handicap. The 11/4 favourite, trained by Adrian McGuinness, had to battle strongly in the closing stages to hold off the challenge of the luckless Mountain Mama, who was finishing in second place for the third time in a row. The winner was ridden by Ian Brennan.
The concluding Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Maiden was won by the Dermot Weld trained Truth will set us free.
The 6/4 second favourite had to survive a stewards' enquiry, however, after a neck and neck race to the line with runner-up, Zalantoun.