Ceol Rua strikes right note for Mullins at Ballinrobe
WILLIE Mullins doubled his tally for the domestic Flat season when Ceol Rua finished strongly to capture the the opening maiden at Ballinrobe last night.
Mullins' sole winner on the level at home was a two-year-old at Cork, although he did strike twice at Royal Ascot last week with Simenon.
Pat Smullen was at work with over half a mile to run on the smart novice hurdler, which was backed from evens in the morning and sent off 4/6 favourite on track. Gradually, the mare found her feet and the daughter of Bob Back stayed on strongly to challenge inside the final furlong and got up in the closing stages to record a half-length victory over 20/1 shot Cnoc Na Sioga.
The winner was making her first start on the Flat, having landed a bumper and two hurdles previously.
"They went a good gallop. She's all stamina and heart," said Smullen afterwards. "The tight track was not totally to her liking but she showed great determination in the last furlong and a half."
The champion National Hunt trainer's brother, Tony, also visited the winner's enclosure after Split Ear landed a tidy gamble by claiming the two-mile handicap hurdle.
Kilflora looked set for victory but couldn't hold off the late charge of the Stowaway gelding, which had been backed from 12/1 in the morning into 5/1 on course.
Emmet Mullins made up ground turning for home on his mount and drove him into the lead jumping the final flight, before staying on strongly.
Veteran Muskatsturm (16/1) showed he's not finished with yet when claiming the first division of the two-and-a-half mile handicap hurdle in the hands of Keith Donoghue.
Remarkably, it was the 13-year-old's first start over hurdles in over eight years and he was returning from a 256-day break to win on his first start for Donegal trainer Charles Moore.
The Michael Grassick-trained Allusive Power had shown very little in her two outings this season and was sent off a 16/1 chance in a field of five for the fillies' maiden.
On the approach to the final bend, she got a lovely run up the rail and responded well to Niall McCullagh's urgings to beat favourite Golden Acorn by a length.
In the Michael & Peggy Dowd Memorial Handicap, Val O'Brien's 20/1 shot Cognomen broke his duck at the 21st attempt, leading on the home bend for Leigh Roche and coming home two and a quarter lengths clear.
• Walter Haefner, one of Irish racing's longest-serving benefactors whose colours were carried to Royal Ascot glory by the Dermot Weld-trained Princess Highway last week, has died peacefully at his home in Zurich at the age of 101.
The owner of Moyglare Stud, which celebrates its 50th birthday this year, Haefner was a passionate owner, breeder and sponsor and was awarded an honorary doctorate for his contribution to the Irish bloodstock industry by Trinity College in 1988.
Moyglare's rich relationship with Irish racing is expected to continue; his daughter Eva-Maria had in recent years taken over management of the operation.