Halford and Cleary double up
REPORT: DUNDALK, Sunday
A DOUBLE for Michael Halford and Rory Cleary was among the highlights at a Dundalk fixture which was reasonably well-attended given the competition it was up against.
Racing opened with a competitive sprint handicap which saw the filly Invincible Ash come good at thethird time of asking on this surface.
Rory Cleary had the daughter of Invincible Spirit in a good position throughout and she kept on strongly inside the last to get up on the line for a short-head victory.
Halford could not have been more complimentary about the rider's performance, saying: "Thatwas a great effort and a very good ride from a bad draw. He was very strong in the last furlong, it was as good a ride as I've seen for a long time."
He added: "She wants six furlongs and she'll get it no problem. We'll step her up slowly and a race like the Joe McGrath Handicap would be the eventual plan."
The duo completed their double inthe second division of the 45-60 handicap where Hujaylea absolutely bolted up. Hitting the front over a furlong out he sprinted away from Wakita for a five-and-a-half-length success.
"He ran well here on his first handicap run and ran a good solid race at Bellewstown but got a bit unbalanced. He likes a flat track and we'll stick to the all-weather with him."
It was a first winner for owner Ged O'Leary, brother of Michael. Cleary was found to have ridden carelessly after an incident early in the straight where he caused interference to the runner-up, who jinked right and caused interference to several other horses. He received a two-day ban.
Ger Lyons wasn't to be outdone. Despite only saddling one winner, it was the most valuable race of the day as the admirable Fiery Lad under Emmett McNamara defied top-weight in the three-year-old handicap as he accounted for Lunduv by a neck.
"He's a fair horse. This wasn't really on his agenda because I thought the handicapper would have given him a bit more for his win the last day. He's very consistent and thriving and if he's in one piece the immediate plan is to come back here for the Listed race on the 26th" said Lyons.
The juvenile maiden was won by odds-on favourite Dark Humour, a win for visiting rider Eddie Ahern who had ridden his first career winner as a 10lb claimer at the old Dundalk back in November 1994.
Speaking from Leopardstown, winning trainer Dermot Weld described the winner as a very consistent colt whose next target will be the Tattersalls Timeform Million at Newmarket next month.
After carding a double at Leopardstown, John Oxx got into the act here when the once-raced Mariyca under Niall McCullagh pulled clear of the front-running Tingling to register a three length success in the two-year-old conditions race. Rider of the runner-up, Danny Grant, received a one day ban for moving his mountacross the track before reaching the marker poles.
Fiery Lad defied the handicapper once more and looks well up to trying a step up in grade after registering another success at this track in the featured 1m2f handicap