Deegan dominates Lincoln as Sruthan leads way
Paul Deegan saddled a memorable one-two in the Tote Irish Lincolnshire as Sruthan led home stablemate Aussie Valentine on the opening day of the Flat at the Curragh.
The latter - better fancied in the market at 8/1 - had made a bold bid from exiting the stalls and led to just outside the furlong marker, where the 12/1 winner and Chris Hayes assumed command.
Running on strongly from there, the winning margin was four and a half lengths from Aussie Valentine, which held on for second from Richard Fahey's raider Gabrial's Kaka. Favourite Ashraf never threatened to get in a blow and was most disappointing.
"It's been a lucky race for us and we won it a few years back with Big Robert 92010)," Deegan said. "Things didn't go right for Sruthan at the back-end of last year. He had dropped down to a lovely mark so we had to go for it. It was a no-brainer off that mark.
"He's a good horse and a proper Group Three performer. He did an outstanding piece of work last Tuesday.Chris probably thought he was on the wrong horse, but I insisted he ride him. It worked out and he would have shot me if I had been wrong."
Earlier, Patrick Prendergast's 16/1 outsider Queen Blossom wore down Devonshire to claim top honours in the Lodge Park Stud Park Express Stakes.
The Willie McCreery-trained Devonshire was the 11/4 market leader for the one-mile Group Three, making her first appearance since finishing down the field in the EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine in October.
For a long way it looked as though favourite-backers would collect, with Devonshire easing clear under a confident-looking William Buick.
However, her stride began to shorten in the final furlong and Fran Berry conjured a late run from Queen Blossom and she got up by a length.
Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning rarely leave this fixture without a winner and they were on the mark with Stenographer which captured the six-furlong maiden.
The American-bred chestnut was a 3/1 chance for his debut and looked booked for minor honours when the more experienced pair of Sufoof and Paddy Power drew clear approaching the furlong-marker.However, Stenographer finished with a rattle against the rail to get up and score by half a length from Paddy Power.
There were a big shock in the opening juvenile contest as Arthur Bunyan teamed up with Leigh Roche to claim the spoils courtesy of 25/1 longshot Mister Trader.
Kevin Prendergast's Tawaleef and Terrific Feeling from Michael O'Callaghan's yard - the mount of Kieren Fallon - disputied favouritism, but Mister Trader blitzed from the stalls to score by four and a quarter lengths.
Across the water, Long Run, dual King George VI Chase hero and winner of the Gold Cup, has been retired after finishing fifth in a hunter chase at Carlisle.
The 11-year-old beat the great Paul Nicholls-trained pair of Denman and Kauto Star in the blue riband at Cheltenham five years ago for Nicky Henderson. He went on to win a second King George VI Chase at Kempton the following year and was placed in the next two renewals of the Gold Cup.
After being sent off the 1/2 favourite to see off six rivals in the Open Hunters' Chase, Long Run made much of the running on his first start for 672 days, but weakened quickly in the straight and owner Robert Waley-Cohen immediately called time on his fantastic career.