Aklan hangs tough to take Lenebane spoils for Oxx
JOHN Oxx maintained his great record in last night's featured Lenebane Stakes at Roscommon where his 12/1 outsider Aklan took the Listed Lenebane prize under Ben Curtis. Oxx -- who won this race in 2008, '09 and '10 -- had to settle for second last year with Haziyn, but Aklan bounced back from a poor run at Limerick to capture the spoils after a thrilling finish.
The improving grey travelled well for most of the contest and, despite being strongly pressed in the final furlong, the Aga Khan-owned colt just hung on from the fast-finishing 9/4 favourite Massiyn, running in the same colours for Mick Halford and Johnny Murtagh. It was just a head back to the third, Eternal Bounty.
"There was a reasonable pace today and he handled the ground and stayed well," Oxx reflected. "He was probably in front a bit soon and wandered around. He might go for the Challenge Stakes at Leopardstown later in the month."
Champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins added to his Flat tally for the season when Tarla overcame a two-year absence to land the Property Partners Earley Auctioneers Maiden over 10 furlongs in the hands of Pat Smullen.
The daughter of Lavirco, which won a hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in April of 2010 on her first and only start for Mullins, was sent off the 4/7 favourite to oblige and she didn't disappoint, hitting the front at the halfway stage and asserting in the straight to win by over four lengths from runner-up An Spailpin Fanach. Smullen and Mullins completed a double as Call Me Bubbles took the 12-furlong handicap by a short head.
Meanwhile, Miinnehoma, winner of the 1994 Grand National, has died at the age of 29. The gelding was 11 years old when he carried the colours of comedian Freddie Starr to victory at Aintree. He was trained by Martin Pipe at the family's Nicholashayne stables and ridden by Richard Dunwoody.