Arch stings rivals to break Oxx's duck
Andy Oliver's Palmones landed a significant gamble at Gowran Park yesterday but the most popular winner of the day was undoubtedly Arch Sting.
Sent off the 7/4 favourite in the mile maiden, Declan McDonogh's mount was providing John Oxx with a belated first winner of the year.
It has been a miserable 2016 for one of Irish racing's most iconic figures, with the Derby victory of Harzand - whose entire family were trained by him on the Curragh - a pretty bitter pill to swallow following the Aga Khan's decision to remove Oxx from his roster.
"I've had very few horses with a wining chance before today," the Currabeg legend stressed. "I only have 12 or 14 three-year-olds so don't have the ammunition. Early in the year you need good horses in Ireland and I just didn't have them.
"The two-year-olds have started quite well and I think the second half of the year will be good. The horses are in good health, there has been nothing wrong with them."
The Harzand team of the Aga Khan, Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen also got among the winners later on with Ashraf (5/2) in the conditions race over nine furlongs.
Smullen confirmed that their mud-loving Epsom hero is on course for a tilt at the Curragh's Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Irish version on Saturday.
"If the ground is safe, I'm sure he'll take his chance," the champion jockey stated. "The easy side of good should be okay, but that decision will be for the boss. We are very happy with him."
Colin Keane bagged an easy double on John Murphy's Best Not Argue (13/2 fav) and 9/1 shot Enough Is Enough for local handler Paddy Meany.
It was also straightforward for Palmones in the nine-furlong handicap. Backed from a high of 20/1 in the morning into an SP of 11/2, Conor Hoban's mount relished the rain-softened ground to score for a first time at the seventh attempt.
"I was beginning to think I shouldn't come racing as the last few winners I've had I haven't been there," Oliver joked.
"She won well. Conor gave her a lovely ride and let her roll along. She disappointed in Navan and looked a different filly today. Obviously she handled the ground very well.
"We'll see what the handicapper does now and move on from there."