Amhran Na Bhfiann makes victorious Dundalk return

Amhran Na Bhfiann made an impressive return to action with a wide-margin win at Dundalk on Wednesday evening.

The four-year-old was a shock 66-1 third behind fellow Aidan O’Brien-trained runner Serpentine in last year’s Derby at Epsom, when he was having just his third career start.

Amhran Na Bhfiann was subsequently beaten at short odds in a Naas maiden in August and had been off the track until lining up in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Dundalk Maiden.

Partnered by Seamie Heffernan, the Galileo colt could be called the winner a long way from home and eventually passed the post 13 lengths in front of second-placed Boola Boola.

Heffernan said: “He’s a sound, strong horse and I’d say he has a future.

“The instructions were ‘he stays’. Sometimes jockeys use their brains and it’s totally the wrong thing to do!

“He has a high rating and he’s a very genuine, strong galloper.”

Four extra meetings added to Dundalk schedule

Dundalk is to hold four extra meetings early in 2021 in a bid to alleviate the recent high level of entries.

Horse Racing Ireland has responded to the significant number of horses being balloted out of races at each of the last three fixtures.

The additional meetings at the County Louth track are scheduled for January 11 and 20, February 1 and 17.

These are all scheduled for the afternoon, with the exception of January 20 which is an evening card.

HRI director of racing Jason Morris said: “We have had representations from the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, the Restricted Trainers Association and the Association of Irish Racehorse Owners, all of whom have expressed serious concern.

“We are therefore pleased to be able to provide these additional opportunities during January and February to augment the existing programme.
“We envisage scheduling four or five races at each of these new meetings to allow for potential divides of multiple races to create eight-race cards at the additional fixtures. This approach has worked well in the past.”

Romanised settles for third as Saltonstall sparkles at Dundalk

Saltonstall continued his rapid progression as he proved too strong for hot favourite Romanised at Dundalk.

Ken Condon had been planning to use the Test Your Tipping Talents At PUNTERS.HOLLYWOODBETS.COM Every Dundalk Meeting Race as a prep for a trip to Hong Kong with his 2018 Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Romanised.

However, the odds-on favourite was very slowly away under Billy Lee, conceding up to six lengths on leaving the stalls.

He quickly made the ground up though, and went by Saltonstall heading down the back straight as Lee looked confident turning for home.

Romanised hit the front still on the bridle over a furlong out, but when Lee asked him to quicken, there was little response and Saltonstall (9-4), who had won his last two for Ado McGuinness, stayed on strongly under 7lb apprentice Sam Ewing.

Harpocrates stuck on gamely to pass Romanised for second, three-quarters of a length behind Saltonstall.

“I can’t fight with the handicapper anymore anyway, that’s for sure,” said McGuinness.

“We put him in this race by chance as he was going so well. People probably thought I was mad running him here after running in the mud, but he’d been here a couple of times and he just floats on the surface.

“Sam was very good on him and it’s great for everyone involved. That’s his fourth win of the year and he’d just a superstar of a horse to have. I’m just thrilled to have him.

“He’ll get a break now, he won’t go travelling. Lingfield could be a possibility for him, but I think we’ll target stakes races on soft ground at the start of next season.

“I don’t know about the Galway Mile next year – I’d want a 20lb claimer on him! It’s a great problem to have with a horse.

“I’m praying to God that I can keep his form the way it is. He’s just turned inside out with age and I’m delighted to have him.”

Mercury Stakes to be run in memory of Pat Smullen

Pat Smullen will be remembered at Dundalk on October 16, with the feature Mercury Stakes run in his honour.

The nine-times champion and multiple Classic winner was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2018 and died last month at the age of 43.

While Smullen accomplished an impressive amount in the saddle, he also undertook some notable charity work following his retirement in May 2019 on medical advice.

Smullen raised €2.5million for Cancer Trials Ireland, with a legends charity race at the Curragh on Irish Champions Weekend drawing support from the likes of Sir Anthony McCoy, Ruby Walsh, Kieren Fallon and others.

Malih Al Basti was a long-standing friend of Smullen and hopes the Group Three Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Pat Smullen Mercury Stakes will prove a fitting memorial.

He said: “Pat was a terrific horseman and a great friend.

“I hope this race will provide all those who knew him or admired his achievements from afar with an opportunity to reflect on a true racing legend.”

The track’s chief executive Jim Martin added: “We are delighted that Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai has chosen to honour Pat with a race at Dundalk, where he rode his first winner, Vicosa, for trainer Tom Lacy in June 1993 and his last aboard Anthony McCann’s Togoville in March 2018.

“We have enjoyed some great moments with Pat in between and look forward to celebrating his outstanding career with this prestigious event later this month.”

Bowerman sparkles with Diamond success at Dundalk

Bowerman gave trainer Adrian McGuinness a first Pattern success with victory in the Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Diamond Stakes at Dundalk on Friday.

Sent off a 10-1 shot, Bowerman stepped up from his defeat in the Desmond Stakes last time to run out a half-length winner of this Group Three affair under Colin Keane.

While McGuinness had sent out Beau Michel to win in Graded company over obstacles, the handler was striking at Group level for the first time on the Flat.

He said: “He’s an unbelievable horse. Colin said he’s so relaxed.

“We worked him up here during the week and he was very good. He’s a dream horse to have and I’m delighted for the lads, the Total Recall Racing Club.

“They’re very loyal owners and have been very, very lucky.

“That’s the first Group race I’ve ever won, so I’ll remember it.

“He’s probably going to be finished for a while, but if some of the Middle East races open up later on the year, he’ll head out to one of those places – Dubai or he could go to Bahrain or Doha if we can get an invitation.

“I’m thrilled to bits. I’m lucky to have two or three very nice horses and that’s what it’s all about. When you get those type of horses, you can go an awful lot more places.

“I know what it’s like coming down here with 47-65 horses. I’m 18 years at it now and we’ve been lucky to get good owners in.”