Monday 27 February 2017

Battling Banimpire strikes for Bolger

Thomas Kelly

JIM BOLGER'S gutsy and talented filly Banimpire pulled out all the stops to land yesterday's Irish Stallion Farms EBF Victor McCalmont Memorial Stakes in a thrilling finish at Gowran Park.

The 2/1 favourite was never far off the pace set by Barring Decree and challenged along with Wild Wind in the straight, but the leader boxed on really well and made it tough.

Banimpire was asked for maximum effort in the final furlong by Kevin Manning and got up close home to win by a neck from Wild Wind, with Barring Decree another short head away in third.

Adilapour disappointed behind Banimpire in the Ballysax last time, but put the record straight with a gutsy performance in the Classic Trial.

Johnny Murtagh sent John Oxx's well-backed colt into the lead early on and the 7/4 favourite saw off all challengers in the straight, just holding Banksters Bonus by half a length.

Aidan O'Brien has made the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden his own over the years and the Ballydoyle handler won it again when Raphael Santi justified 1/2 favouritism.

The youngster was never travelling particularly well under Seamie Heffernan, but knuckled down to his task in the straight and scored comfortably by two lengths.

When Not Iff was sent off the 3/1 favourite for the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap and Kevin Prendergast's three-year-old made short work of her rivals. Declan McDonogh grabbed the rails berth early on and When Not Iff led all the way, quickening clear to win by six lengths.

Paul Hennessy has enjoyed a great start to his training career and made it two wins from three runs when Cheers Buddy defied a 5lb penalty for Friday's Dundalk success in the Tote Jackpot Races 3 To 6 Handicap.

Seamie Heffernan, completing a quick double, delivered a smooth challenge down the outer and the 6/1 shot edged past the always prominent Golden Starlet to win by a short head.

At Sligo, Paul Townend stayed in pole position for the jump jockeys' title after guiding Riltree to victory in the mares maiden hurdle.

Gary Davis, travelling head lad for Willie Mullins, said: "She's been knocking on the door in her last few runs. I'd say the better ground helped. Paul gave her a lovely ride. It's important for a mare to get a win under her belt."

Davy Russell -- still five behind Townend going into Punchestown -- had earlier struck aboard favourite Run For Sol in the two and half mile hurdle for Charles Byrnes.

Russell had to settle for the runner-up spot aboard favourite Domination, which played second fiddle to Michael Hourigan's Lend A Hand Son, which got up by a neck under Ruby Walsh.

Paul Nolan's Canadian Diamond stepped up on his initial run in a heavy ground Thurles bumper when taking the concluding contest with the in-form Mikey Fogarty in the saddle.

The winner sent favourite backers home happy after scoring at 9/4 by two lengths from Be All Man.

Irish Independent

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