Smullen gives good Account of himself at Down Royal
TITLE race leader Pat Smullen was in double form at Down Royal yesterday, the highlight being an all-the-way victory on Fictional Account (5/1) in Her Majesty's Plate.
Trained by Vincent Ward, the five-year-old mare saw off Knight Eagle and Troas for a comfortable win.
"That's fantastic for her. The conditions suited and the ground suited. We were going to go to the Curragh but I changed my mind," said Ward. "She could go for the Cesarewitch to finish the season. We'll try and get a bit of black type with her next season."
Smullen -- who has been setting the pace in his quest to regain the champion jockey's title -- had earlier led home a one-two for trainer Joanna Morgan in the two-year nursery.
Ancient Sands had shown very little in three previous outings but was only a 7/2 chance and held a three-quarters of a length advantage over Equus Ferus at the line.
"He's a big baby and will be a nice horse next year," said Morgan. "I think there is a race for him at Fairyhouse (Sunday week). Pat Smullen said not to run him more than once again. But I don't always listen to jockeys!
"I fancied Ancient Sands more than the other lad. Rory (Cleary) rode him (Equus Ferus) the last day and said we wanted to drop him in because he was too keen. He was right."
Smullen's title rival, Fran Berry, kept in the hunt as he teamed up with boss John Oxx to land the opening juvenile maiden with Natalisa (5/2 favourite) who put a disappointing display on her last start behind her.
"She was back working well and it was just a case of fingers crossed today that she would show some form. She broke well, showed pace and picked up well. She's entitled to improve and could be progressive," said Berry.
Oxx and Berry doubled up in the finale -- the Victoria Square Irresistible Handicap -- when Emrani held off the gambled-on Alpine Glade. Willie McCreery's Tahitian Pearl lunged late to land a gamble in the Cruise Handicap under Keegan Latham.
The filly had attracted support in the morning from 12/1 into 4/1 favourite on track. She left it late, however, just getting up in the dying strides to pip Metropolis by a head.