Puncher floors rivals to secure Bolger double
OUTSIDER Puncher Clynch just held At First Sight in a bunch finish to capture the featured PW McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes, giving Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning a 14/1 double at Leopardstown yesterday.
Winner of a handicap at Dundalk on his previous start, the Azamour colt stepped up in game fashion to spring a surprise in this Group Three contest.
The 12/1 shot held the renewed effort of the Aidan O'Brien-trained pacemaker At First Sight (10/1) by a short head with fellow Ballydoyle runner Mikhail Glinka, the 11/10 favourite, just a neck away in third.
"He's a very versatile type who gets a mile and a half and he could be dropped back to nine furlongs," said Bolger.
"He probably wouldn't be able to cope with Group One company just yet, but he'd certainly be able to cope with a level below. He doesn't seem to mind the ground or surface. He will probably have an easy week or two of it after that."
Book Of Numbers (10/1) recorded his first success in the Glenbeigh Group Handicap after running in three maidens.
Leading inside the final furlong under Manning, Bolger's charge swept to victory by a length and a half from Aghadoe.
"He had a good run first time out, then he threw the toys out the pram at Gowran and he didn't act at all in Dundalk," said Bolger. "He will probably just stick to handicaps."
Dermot Weld, Pat Smullen and owner Khalid Abdullah completed a double when Famous Name romped home in the Heritage Stakes.
The 11/10 favourite tracked his pace-setting stablemate Broad Meaning until striking the front early in the straight. That gave Famous Name first run on his chief market rival Recharge and Smullen's mount pulled two and a half lengths clear at the line.
"He's a very good horse and that was a very good performance," said Kris Weld, son of the trainer. "He is in such good form, we were a little bit worried about the ground.
"The two possibilities for him are the Group Three Amethyst Stakes back here in May or the Prix de Muguet at Saint-Cloud the weekend before."
The same winning connections had earlier sent out Brushed Aside to follow up last month's Dundalk success by taking the Stepaside Handicap.
The 4/1 joint favourite got the better of Miss Velocity in the closing stages to score by a length.
It proved a day for doubles as Aidan O'Brien landed a brace thanks to winning two maidens.
O'Brien's Zoffany made a pleasing debut with a cosy victory in the opening juvenile maiden.
The Dansili juvenile, backed into 4/7 favourite, came through with a smooth run in the final furlong to beat Gold Post by a length and a half in the hands of Johnny Murtagh.
"He quickened up really well today, he was ready and learnt a lot. I don't think they went overly fast there," said O'Brien. "I'm very happy with him. Royal Ascot could be a possibility, but we've a good bit to go yet."
However, the Ballydoyle supremo's second winner was something of a surprise as 16/1 newcomer Snow Blizzard captured the three-year-old maiden over 10 furlongs in the hands of Colm O'Donoghue.
O'Donoghue made all on aboard the Sadler's Wells colt and kept on well inside the final furlong to hold off the challenge of Maverick Man by half a length. Stablemate September Morn, which was the 4/6 favourite, finished third.