Sherry is the toast of Dundalk with first winner
Punters were again treated to some very good racing, with background stories to match, at Dundalk Stadium on Friday.
As with Ben Coen last Friday, Thomas Sherry rode his first-ever winner when Aggression landed the card's opener for trainer Michael O'Callaghan. They are both in good company for nine-time champion jockey, Pat Smullen and current champion Colin Keane both secured their first successes at Dundalk.
His proud father Eddie was on hand afterwards to relate how his son first encountered horses as they pulled the Guinness wagons in inner-city Dublin. He seemed to take to them very naturally and, after a spell with Michael Halford, moved on to Michael O'Callaghan.
Michael Halford was also among the winners, with Invincible Ryker making it two wins from two runs at Dundalk. Racing in cheek-pieces for the first time, the well-backed 5/2 favourite was produced with a well-timed challenge by Ross Coakley to win by half-a-length.
The winning trainer said afterwards: 'He's still relatively lightly-raced and is getting the hang of things - he's a grand, big horse.'
The best-backed horse of the night was the Ger Lyons-trained Elegant Drama (2/1 on Friday into an SP of 4/6), but she had to settle for second as Gavin Cromwell's Princess Yaiza got the better of things by half-a-length.
Owned by Michael Dunphy and Ian Reilly, it was lovely to see Ian, his wife and three children, Joan, Shannon and Billy on the podium to receive the winner's trophy.
The same comment applies to Joe Wall, his wife, Maureen, and their grandchildren, who presented the trophy to winning connections following the Joe Wall's 70th Birthday Nursery Handicap. The winner was the John Kiely-trained, Gerald Burke-owned, Check Your Pockets, ridden by champion jockey Colin Keane and backed from 16/1 in the morning into an SP of 6/1. Clearly, the result was not unexpected.
Joe worked for legendary trainer Dan Moore from 1959 right the way through glory years that included L'Escargot's Cheltenham Gold Cup wins in 1970 and 1971 and Aintree Grand National success in 1975. All three wins were gained under his close pal Tommy Carberry, one of the sport's greats who sadly passed away in July.
Another well-backed winner was New Story (11/4 fav), trained by Eoin Doyle and ridden by Shane Foley, in the Irishinjuredjockeys.com Claiming Race, while the Eddie Lynam-trained Clare Island looked a filly with a future when scooting clear to win the Crowne Plaza Hotel Race & Stay Handicap under Robbie Downey. It was her first win on just her fifth start.
Two other fillies also left very favourable impressions. As she had done last week, the Aidan O'Brien-trained Clear Skies, a half-sister to the 2005 Epsom Derby winner Motivator, looked progressive when comfortably winning the Crowne Plaza Jockey & Trainer Awards Handicap under the trainer's son Donnacha.
Racing in the colours of leading owner JP McManus, she has now won on her last three visits to Dundalk.
Also catching the eye was Unpretentious, a well-related filly that was having her first run for trainer Joseph O'Brien, having formerly been trained in France by the great Andre Fabre. She got up close home to land the Dundalk Stadium Business Club 2018 Fillies Maiden under Sean Corby. She, too, looks to have a future.
Many members of the 2018 Business Club were on hand to enjoy the evening's racing, and many are likely to be at our next meeting, which is scheduled for Friday, December 1st, with the first race due off at 5:30pm!