All smiles for McGuinness after Laugh A Minute’s Cork success

Laugh A Minute was a surprise winner of the Listed Sean Barrett Bloodstock Stakes at Cork.

A smart performer a couple of years ago for Roger Varian, Laugh A Minute was on a losing streak of nine since winning on his second outing for Ado McGuinness.

Well beaten when favourite at Dundalk last time out, Gavin Ryan’s mount looked to have plenty to do with two furlongs to run.

Eventual runner-up Fiscal Rules and Gustavus Weston were in the process of battling it out, with the favourite Lustown Baba and Make A Challenge all in there pitching.

However, Laugh A Minute found a rare turn of foot and soon quickened clear to win by a decisive two lengths at 16-1.

Fiscal Rules did well to cling on for second – with Make A Challenge, who was not disgraced in Group One company on a couple of occasions last season, back in third.

“We were running this lad in Premier Handicaps – and his work at home was very, very good – and we said we’d bite the bullet this year and go back to Listed races,” said McGuinness.

“He is a good horse and has been galloping with Harry’s Bar (stablemate). He had Group form before we got him, and had solid form. He is a little hyper but was on song today, and I’m blessed that I have a good bunch of horses.

“Gavin (Ryan) said it rode a really good race, and he picked up and put the race to bed in a matter of strides.

“I’d say his handicapping days are over now, and he’ll stay in Stakes races. We have plenty of options for him.”

Casanova primed to kickstart campaign in Irish Lincolnshire

Ado McGuinness is eyeing the Irish Lincolnshire as the springboard to a lucrative season for his new recruit Casanova.

The five-year-old made his debut for McGuinness’ Lusk stable in January, finishing third in a seven-furlong Dundalk handicap on his first start after leaving John Gosden’s powerhouse Newmarket operation.

The new turf Flat season begins at the Curragh on Sunday, and Casanova is all set for the valuable Paddy Power-sponsored feature handicap.

McGuinness said: “We’re happy with him – we were very happy with his run at Dundalk, and we just decided to keep him for the Lincoln then.

“He’s had a couple of bits of work on grass and I think if the horse settles, he’ll run a big race – he is inclined to pull hard in his races.”

Casanova is drawn 17th of 24 runners, something the trainer does not think will hamper his chances over the one-mile trip.

“It’s not ideal, but I don’t think it’s as bad over the mile as it would be over the sprints,” he said.

“I don’t think it’ll have that much effect, because he’ll be running into the elbow, so I think he’ll be fine.”

McGuinness has a number of other future handicaps in his sights for Casanova, with a trip back across the Irish Sea to England a possibility at some stage.

“We had him in the the English Lincoln, but I don’t think he’ll be high enough to get in,” he added.

“He’ll target all the premier handicaps in Ireland, which are worth a good bit of money – the likes of the Galway Festival, Guineas weekend.

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“We’ll target all those good races with him, and see if we can pick one of them up.

“There’s the likes of the Galway Mile – and maybe, if he goes up a few pounds, he could travel to England for one of the big handicaps.

“They’re worth a good bit of money at home, though, so we tend to keep a lot of our horses here.

“Long-term plan, Galway, that would be a big aim for him.”

A gelded son of Frankel, Casanova won both a maiden and a handicap before McGuinness acquired him for owners Dooley Thoroughbreds for 15,000 guineas.

“He wasn’t overly expensive – we thought he would have been a bit more expensive really,” he said.

“He has ability, he’s a little bit keen in his races, but he seems to be a lot more settled now than he was, so I’m very happy with him at the moment.”

Among Casanova’s rivals in a typically competitive renewal, Ken Condon runs Teed Up.

The Gleneagles gelding has a race record of three victories and three second places in six runs, but Condon believes he will need to improve this weekend.

“He seems to have the profile, but this is going to be very competitive –  he’ll need to have improved from three to four,” said the Kildare trainer.

“Hopefully he has – but as I said it’s a competitive race, as you expect for a Lincoln – they always are.

The forecast testing ground is something Teed Up should cope with at least, because much of his best form has come in similar conditions.

“It’s always a test, and he’s handled it previously there a few times in the autumn,” added Condon.

“So that’ll be a help – because they’ll need to handle the conditions.

“Hopefully he’s improved. He’ll need to – he’s up a little bit in the weights, and it’s very competitive.

“He’s still open to improvement, being lightly raced, so we’ll see.”

Sheila Lavery’s Quizical will also appreciate conditions, with any further softening in the ground welcomed by his trainer.

Quizical, ridden by AP McCoy, wins the Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland on Longines Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh
Quizical, ridden by AP McCoy, wins the Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland on Longines Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh (Niall Carson/PA)

“He’s won at the Curragh, so we know he runs well there,” she said.

“The big thing with Quizical is the ground, he’s very ground-dependent, and this ground should suit him.

“There might be a couple of showers, which would be to my benefit because it might loosen it up.

“He’s where I’d want him to be, going into his first race, so fingers crossed.”

Like Casanova, Quizical – winner of the Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland under Sir Anthony McCoy in 2019 – was also entered in the Lincoln at Doncaster next week, but that engagement was vetoed because of the more suitable going at the Curragh.

“We had him in at Doncaster as well – but as the ground at the Curragh seems to suit him, we’ll run him there,” Lavery explained.

“He wintered well, and we’re hoping for a big run. But he’s got a bad draw (21 of 24) – it’s a very high draw, so it just depends what side they go to.

“If they go to the normal side, the rails side, he’s got a very bad draw – but if they come to the stands side, he’s got a good draw.”

McGuinness delighted following Bowerman’s Doha success

Ado McGuinness has reflected on a very profitable weekend overseas, which saw Bowerman win in Qatar and Saltonstall pick up some big prize money in Saudi Arabia.

The seven-year-old Bowerman overcame a wide draw to win the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup in Doha, beating the ex-Brian Meehan inmate Dominus in a race worth over £80,000 to the winner.

McGuinness will now look at all the major races over a mile in Europe, with a Group Three win already in the locker.

“We were very happy. I thought he’d run a massive race and he did, but he had plenty against him. He had to do all the travelling and was drawn out wide on a tight track, so it’s great for everybody involved,” said McGuinness.

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“He’s lightly-raced. He’s not the easiest to train, but he’s still improving. We felt he was the class horse in the race, so we had to go and we got proved right.

“We’ll get him home and freshen him up. He’s not a soft ground horse. We were thinking of getting him qualified for All-Weather Finals Day, but it was one or the other.

“He’s a dude of a horse, a lovely horse to train and we’re lucky to have him.”

Bowerman could step up to 10 furlongs, but McGuinness has Saltonstall – who was fourth behind Willie Mullins’ True Self in Saudi Arabia – for those races.

Saltonstall (right) winning at the Galway Festival
Saltonstall (right) winning at the Galway Festival (Niall Carson/PA)

“We could think about the Tattersalls Gold Cup (for Bowerman), but I think a fast-run mile really suits. There’s a lot of money to be picked up pot hunting in the big races. Saltonstall won plenty for coming fourth in Saudi,” said McGuinness, who also took Harry’s Bar to Riyadh.

“Harry’s Bar just didn’t like the dirt. I thought he would, but they go so fast in those races and he didn’t enjoy the kickback. We’ll try to qualify him for the All-Weather Finals, but our programme in Ireland doesn’t make that easy. He’s rated a bit lower on the grass, which is an option for Ascot and the like.”

Bowerman bags Qatar prize on big weekend for McGuinness team

Bowerman gave trainer Ado McGuinness a notable international success with victory in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup in Qatar on Friday.

The seven-year-old overcame a wide draw to scoop the £83,000 first prize in the local Group Two contest over a mile at Doha.

Ridden by Ronan Whelan, Bowerman led inside the furlong and held Dominus by a neck. It was the perfect start to an important couple of days for the McGuinness team and in a further boost Betrayed and Thrumps Dream gave the County Dublin trainer a double nearer home in Dundalk.

“It’s been a very special day. Ado’s brother Laurence passed away a few weeks ago so we all needed a bit of a lift. He was obviously looking down on us today,” said McGuinness’ assistant, Stephen Thorne, from Dundalk.

“Ronan (Whelan) gave Bowerman a remarkable ride. We were drawn wide and the stats were against us, but he was very cool on the horse.

“He picked up well and won well at the line. Our ex-apprentice Ian Brennan is representing us out there.”

McGuinness himself is in Saudi Arabia supervising his two runners there on Saturday.

“Ado is in Riyadh were we have Harry’s Bar and Saltonstall running and fingers crossed we can get a bit of luck there,” Thorne added.

“Saltonstall is prominent in the betting and his race has cut up, so we just need a bit of luck. It’s a race for a million dollars, and Harry’s Bar is in the dirt sprint – a million-and-a-half race.

“It’s dream stuff to even be represented by them.”

Harry’s Bar raring to go for Saudi assignment

Ado McGuinness is excited at the prospect of running Harry’s Bar in the Saudi Arabian Airlines Riyadh Dirt Sprint next week.

The trainer bought the six-year-old gelding for 75,000 guineas at Tattersalls Horses In Training Sales in October – and less than four months later he will be racing for a prize worth $1,500,000 over six furlongs in the Middle East.

So far, Harry’s Bar has been a revelation since his move from James Fanshawe’s Newmarket stables, winning both his starts for the County Dublin handler at Dundalk.

“He’s in great form. He’s come back 100 per cent from his last race, he’s cantering away and he’s heading out to Saudi on Sunday morning,” said McGuinness.

“They tell me it’s the closest dirt track to an all-weather surface probably in the world. He’s an all-weather specialist so hopefully he’ll act on it.”

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McGuinness felt his head was on the block when he ran Harry’s Bar shortly after buying him at the sales.

“We’ve only run him twice and the first day when he won the Listed race if he had got beat and finished down the field I’d have been called all sorts, because he’d only come out of the sales and run a few days later,” he said.

“We gambled and it worked. He’s a very good horse and is enjoying life here.

Ado McGuinness has two runners in Saudi Arabia and one in Qatar next week
Ado McGuinness has two runners in Saudi Arabia and one in Qatar next week (PA)

“His win at Dundalk last week was a very good performance.

“The handicapper put his turf rating up 3lb after that and left his all-weather mark alone. I couldn’t understand that.

“If he goes back to the grass I think he’ll be a nice horse for the Wokingham.”

Salstonstall is set to join his stablemate in Saudi Arabia for a conditions race worth $1m after he runs at Dundalk on Friday.

McGuinness’ stable stalwart faces just four rivals when he has his first race for 88 days in the Hollywoodbets Horse Racing And Sports Betting Race.

“He’s heading for Saudi as well all being well,” he went on.

Bowerman has a big-race date in Qatar
Bowerman has a big-race date in Qatar (PA)

“He’s in really good form after his break. I’m looking forward to getting him out and about.

“It’s not going to be easy in Saudi, but I think he’ll run a big race there.

Not too far away in Qatar, another McGuinness inmate, Bowerman, will fly the flag in a local Group Two at Doha over a mile.

“Bowerman goes to Doha next week for mile Group Two on the grass on the Friday night. We’d have gone for the bigger race there, only the handicapper dropped him,” he said.