You just cannot keep Brendan Matthews down.
The legendary Newry trainer claimed his fifth Boylesports Derby yesterday when Razor Ashmore provided bookmakers the length and breadth of Ireland with massive hangovers.
The medium of a massive weekend gamble, Razor Ashmore hadn't been in general favour following a close shave in the opening round. But you don't underestimate the man from Newry and in his five subsequent outings Razor Ashmore went from strength to strength.
After easily leading Gingerbread Boy and Siena Steel in the early courses yesterday, Razor Ashmore progressed to a final meeting with the Patsy Byrne-owned, Pa Fitzgerald-trained Sandy Sea. The latter had been favourite right from the start and had disposed of Ballydorgan Hero in the quarter-final before a narrow call against the gallant Catunda Ashmore in the semi.
In the final, though, it was all Razor Ashmore. He shot out of slips, quickly showed a length in front and then powered up the hill to open a four-length lead by the turn. It was the performance of a real champion. The previous Matthews winners in the Derby were Townbrook Bimbo in 1985, Newry Hill in '92, Hilltown in '97 and Bexhill Eoin in 2006.
Matthews only took over the training of Razor Ashmore after he had qualified at Ballyduff. He is owned by Joe O'Connor from Tarbert who also bred the son of Ashmore View and Razor Lady. The runner-up Sandy Sea is a son of Murtys Gang and Ardnalee Laura.
The Hotel Minella Oaks went back to Macroom when Sullane Sign led all the way against Belated Legacy. Trained by James Kelleher, the daughter of Droopys Caesar and Emers Pride disposed of favourite Global Call in the quarter-final and then Dale Andretti in the semi. In the final, Sullane Sign led all for a length-and-a-half verdict over Belated Legacy, which is jointly owned by Jim Mulcahy and Brian O'Leary.
Completing a golden day for the Matthews kennels, Cross Country beat his kennel companion Eshwary Micko in the final of the Classics Club Champion Stakes by two and a half lengths. Both winner and runner-up are owned by Paul Matthews and Michael Keenan and are trained by Matthews.