Jack has all the answers in Topaz triumph
Enthusiastic owner Tom Howley Junior was the toast of Athenry after a fantastic victory last night.
His 9/1 chance Ask Jack made virtually all the running from his plum draw to give Limerick rider Chris Hayes his second Topaz Mile success in three years, before another bumper Ballybrit crowd of 17,860.
Quietly supported in a lively market for this premier handicap, Fethard trainer Joe Murphy's consistent six-year-old considerably boosted his career earnings thanks to an enterprising ride from former triple champion apprentice Hayes, who took no prisoners from the outset.
The importance of a high draw (17 of 18) at this tight circuit over a mile or less was emphasised once more when Hayes -- victorious aboard Celtic Dance in 2008 -- energetically kept his mount at full stretch to deny outsider Mid Mon Lady (drawn 12). Worldly Wise, which encountered plenty of trouble in running despite breaking from the 16 stall, only got into top gear inside the final furlong to pip If Per Chance for third money.
"This has been the plan since the Festival last year when Ask Jack was just beaten in the big seven-furlong handicap by Fit The Cove," said Murphy.
"He's a genuine horse and it's a race I've always wanted to win. You need a good draw to win this race and he is genuine," he added. Murphy also confirmed the gelding would return to the track on Saturday for another crack at the seven-furlong event.
The Latin Quarter Chase saw a 3/1 winner for the visitors as English raider Invisible Man, from the Ian Williams yard, scored a bloodless victory over the home team, best of whom was 100/1 outsider Tory Hill Lad.
Based near Stratford, Williams had scored on the Flat here in 2003 with The Prince and there was never much doubt about the superiority of the heavily punted Invisible Man once former champion jockey, Barry Geraghty, allowed this full brother to J'y Vole to take the lead three out.
The five-year-old was tackling the two-mile, six-furlong event after being relegated to second reserve for this afternoon's Tote Plate and Williams had no regrets about taking the lesser prize instead.
"This fellow is still a novice and I wouldn't be sure he'd have been the same horse in the Plate, as he's still immature. We will give him a break now and bring him back for the early autumn meetings at Cheltenham," he explained.
There was an emotional win for trainer Paul Cashman when Miss Eze showed great determination to land the Caulfield Industrial Athlone Handicap, providing Michael Hussey with his first Galway winner this year.
The daughter of Danehill Dancer was well off the pace in the early stages, but flew home for a short-head win over He's Got Rhythm.
Afterwards Cashman dedicated Miss Eze's 12/1 win to his recently deceased father Liam.
"The boss man bought Miss Eze and deserves the credit for today's win as he was such a great judge of horses," he said. "Miss Eze will run again on Thursday in a similar handicap and should win again!"