O'Brien has a beach ball
Published 04/09/2014 | 18:01
Champion jockey Joseph O'Brien paid a rare visit to Laytown for one ride on the strand and punters who sent off Sister Slew the 9-4 favourite for the Marquees Nationwide Claiming Race were rewarded with victory.
The unique beach track doesn't attract the best horses, but plenty of big-name jockeys from both codes have added their name to its roll of honour, something O'Brien was keen to do after drawing a blank on his only previous visit four years ago.
Sister Slew was always prominent and hit the front two furlongs out before being driven clear to score by three lengths from Like Magic, putting another winner on the scoreboard for the in-form Gordon Elliott team.
The winning jockey said: "It's something different and it's nice to ride a winner here. Gordon was quite confident she would win and he was spot-on. She travelled away fine and probably got to the front a bit sooner than ideal, but my rhythm was taking me there so I had to stay going. S he stuck it out to the line."
Richard Ford's decision to send Seamster across from his Lancashire yard paid dividends when the seven-year-old made just about all the running to take the Tote Mobile Betting Handicap.
A winner four times on the Lingfield all-weather track this year, the 3-1 favourite was bounced out quickly by Colin Keane and after finding a decisive burst from the two-furlong pole to put the race to bed, he had little trouble holding Doonard Prince by a length and three-quarters.
Ford said: "We've had this in mind for a little while. It's a bit strange as your turf mark here is what you run off on the beach. He's 15lb lower on turf than the all-weather in Britain, but he got a compromise mark here of 10lb lower.
"I was a bit worried that he was not allowed to wear blinkers as he's worn them about 26 times, but I was hoping the weight advantage would compensate for not having the blinkers.
Ford's other runner My Son Max wasn't involved at the business end in the Barry Matthews Appreciation Society (QR) Handicap, in which Pat Shanahan's always prominent Prince Jock (12-1), the mount of Roger Quinlan, held off Korbous by a neck.
Pat Martin's 10-3 shot Our Max demolished the opposition in the Gilna's Cottage Inn Maiden, challenging down the outside and quickening away from the favourite Al Fahidi in the final furlong to win by three and a half lengths under Shane Foley.
The trainer said: "I was a bit concerned it might be too quick for him. He'd a lovely first run for me at Leopardstown but was then a bit slow at the stalls a few times. This place has been good to me over the years, although that's my first winner here since 2009."
It got even better when the trainer doubled up in the Hibernia Steel (QR) Race finale, Declan Lavery just getting Togoville (7-1) home in front by half a length in an exciting finish with Smoker.
Chris Geoghegan snapped up an opportunity on Mr Bounty (6-1) in the O'Neills Sports Handicap, challenging for the lead a quarter of a mile out on the Michael O'Callaghan-trained four-year-old and forging clear to score by a length and three-quarters.
O'Callaghan said: "That's a nice birthday present as I'm 26 today. A lot of mine have been finishing second, so it's great to get a winner, and that's my first runner here. He won at Kempton, which is quite a fast track, and coming here I thought it would suit him. He likes a fast surface and the straight six furlongs. He could be back here again next year."