Harley finally gets his lucky break aboard Spelterini
Donegal-born Martin Harley, who endured more than his share of setbacks in the past year, enjoyed a deserved change of luck at the Curragh yesterday evening when taking the Derrinstown Stud Apprentice Derby on 10/1 chance Spelterini.
Trained by his boss Jim Bolger, and carrying the colours of the Coolcullen handler's wife Jackie, Spelterini was brought with a sustained run on the outer in the closing stages by Harley to catch and pass Sam James on 25/1 chance Lancetto.
A broken leg last summer severely curtailed 20-year-old Harley's career, and he was in the wars again at headquarters earlier this year when struck by his older brother Shaun's Key Decision while mounting in the parade ring.
Spelterini was competing in just his fourth race and making his handicap debut when showing a commendable blend of stamina and acceleration in a fast-run renewal.
He will, nevertheless, be heading to the sales shortly.
"This is a nice type of horse and a good-looker as well. He goes to the July Sales at Newmarket and will make someone a lovely jumper," said Bolger, who saddles Puncher Clynch and Carraiglawn in tomorrow's Irish Derby.
Although they have no involvement in that Classic renewal, Kevin Prendergast and Declan McDonogh can dream of further Group One glory with their latest star juvenile Seeharn, which was a cosy winner of the Ballygallon Stud Stakes.
This Listed contest was dominated betting-wise and on the track by course and distance debut-scorers Moonlit Garden and Seeharn, with the former probably showing the effects of a hard race from a bad draw at Royal Ascot in the Queen Mary Stakes.
Moonlit Garden was unable to go with McDonogh's mount in the final furlong as Gatamalata came through to split the pair at the finish.
"This is a smart filly and, although she hates the ground this quick, she copes with it. We will give her a rest and bring her back here for the Moyglare Stud Stakes-- hopefully if we get it soft then there'll be no danger," said Prendergast.
Last year's winner, Just For Mary, made a gallant attempt to follow up for Mark Loughnane's yard in the Silken Thomas Handicap but was always struggling to keep in touch with Airspace, on which Johnny Murtagh again took no prisoners.
Breaking fast from the plum draw on the stands rail, Michael Halford's four-year-old managed to repeat their successful Navan tactics of making all the running over the minimum trip despite a 12lb penalty to clock under a minute.