Doubles all the rage at Dundalk
It was very much a night of doubles at Dundalk on Friday and also a good night for the Crosse brothers.
The first to double up were trainer Joseph O'Brien and champion apprentice Shane Crosse. A third successive win at Dundalk for Too Precious (13/8f) and back-to-back Dundalk wins for Equitant (5/4f), who is unbeaten since joining Joseph, made in 31 wins in 2018 for the trainer and ten wins at the last five Dundalk meetings for Shane.
Equitant is owned by Nasir Askar and Too Precious by the Annus Mirabilis Syndicate. Delighted syndicate members Donal O'Mahoney and Pat Corcoran were on hand to greet their home-bred filly, who provided them with their 41st winner in less than three years of ownership.
Their first winner, Stone Mountain, who was also trained by Joseph, also came at Dundalk in February 2016. 'This place has been good to us,' they added.
Joseph is well on course to break the record number of winners achieved in a calendar year at Dundalk, which stands at 33.
Also doubling up were trainer Michael Halford and jockey Niall McCullagh, successes that took Michael to 20 victories at Dundalk in 2018. He is also closing in on 200 career winners at the stadium, a remarkable tally.
First up was the Aga Khan-owned Karasi (9/2), who confirmed earlier promise on turf by winning the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden, and the double-clincher was La Novia (5/1 fav), who had looked unlucky in her last two runs at Dundalk but was an emphatic winner of the first division of the Christmas Party Nights At Dundalk Handicap for owner Ann McDonald.
Shane came close landing a hat-trick on the night, but his mount Hey Pretty was beaten just a short head in the card's finale, the second division of the handicap, by the Clare Louise Cannon-trained Tomwontlisten (25/1), who was ridden by Shane's brother Nathan.
The scenes that followed the Dublin-based Maze Syndicate's filly's success were a joy to behold. Clare was sent the winner on the back of the owners being impressed by her handling of three-time winner Innamorare. Their good judgement has been quickly vindicated.
It was great to see trainer Pat Martin back in the winner's enclosure at Dundalk. He recently 'broke a couple of ribs' but thankfully said 'I'm fine now'.
That news, along with a win for his grand servant, Reckless Lad (4/1), ridden by Killian Leonard, in the Irishinjuredjockeys.com Claiming Race, was well received. The eight-year-old's success meant that he joined a select band of horses to have won nine times at Dundalk. No horse has won ten - yet. Owner Derek Molloy's brother Ken and Finian Reilly were on hand to receive the winner's trophy.
Gaining a first win at Dundalk, but a fifth overall, was Polly Douglas (5/1 co-fav), who won the www.dundalkstadium.com Handicap in the hands of Damien Melia for the filly's owner/breeder David Mooney. Winning trainer Kieran Cotter quipped: 'That's got us the Christmas money! We've got two grand sprinters (Dash d'Or is the other; she has won three races since October) and every yard needs horses like her.' We may yet see her again at Dundalk this year.
The card's fillies' maiden, sponsored by the Dundalk Business Club, whose members were enjoying a Gala Night at the track, was won by the Dermot Weld-trained Ishigati (9/1), who ran out a two-and-three-quarter length winner in the hands of Declan McDonogh. The winning owner was Joe Higgins.
The next Dundalk meeting takes place this coming Friday night.