Saturday 18 November 2017

O'Brien weaves Mekong magic

Aidan O'Brien with his son Joseph, who were victorious with Mekong River at Listowel
Aidan O'Brien with his son Joseph, who were victorious with Mekong River at Listowel

Thomas Kelly

Mekong River maintained his unbeaten record with a gritty victory in the featured EBF Premier Nursery Handicap at Listowel.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained colt – a 9/4 second favourite – looked like being denied a clear passage at a crucial stage as Joseph O'Brien needed a gap on the rails, with a number of runners in with a chance.

But the necessary room appeared and the son of Galileo duly seized the initiative, quickening clear of 15/8 favourite Hidden Oasis, whose supporters looked sure to collect.

The winning rider said: "He's improving with racing and is a grand horse. I was happy to get the gap on the rail and he quickened up well when he got it."

Mekong River has an entry in the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh on September 29, as well as next year's Epsom Derby.

Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning combined for a 19/1 double, which was initiated by the success of Chroussa in the opener. The 6/5 favourite capitalised on her good draw in stall two to make all the running before stretching clear in the final furlong to score by four and a half lengths from Sophie's World.

The Coolcullen maestro notched his second winner when Fulminata ran out an easy winner of the one-mile fillies' maiden, scoring by six lengths from Mischief N Mayhem.

Barry Geraghty celebrated a winner on his 34th birthday as Tropical Three claimed the ITBA Fillies Scheme Hurdle for trainer Michael Hourigan.

Little King Robin tried to stretch the field on the run to the second last but Tropical Three stuck at it and galloped away after getting on terms from the final flight.

A length and a quarter was the margin of victory for the 13/8 favourite, with Lady Of Glencoe back in third.

Bryan Cooper recorded yet another winner since returning from a broken leg when riding Pink Coat to victory in the Cashen Handicap Hurdle.

The Dessie Hughes-trained gelding always travelled well just off the pace for Cooper, who made a decisive move off the home bend and the issue was never in doubt thereafter for the 6/1 second favourite.

Despite drifting in the market, John Kiely's Toe The Line made an impressive winning debut in the closing bumper. In the hands of Derek O'Connor, the 11/1 outsider travelled well toward the rear before making gradual headway and sweeping to the front at the furlong pole to score by a comfortable length.

Irish Independent

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