Urban Beat defied top weight and a seemingly unfavourable draw to win the €100,000 Paddy Power Rockingham Handicap at the Curragh.
Johnny Murtagh’s charge was the class act of the race being a Group Three winner at Dundalk in October, but had been below that level of form in three outings this term.
Sent off a 9-1 chance under Ben Coen – still on the crest of a wave following his Royal Ascot win aboard Murtagh’s Create Belief – the six-year-old was one of only three runners to keep to the near side rail.
Coen was keen to grab the initiative and it appeared that he never relinquished it, as two lengths up with two furlongs to run Urban Beat kept to his task willingly and was never challenged.
On the far side there were a host in with chances, with Master Matt coming out best, but two lengths behind the winner. Jungle Jane was third.
“We said we’d let him bowl along, in handicap company,” said Coen.
“He jumped, pinged the gates, travelled with me and quickened up from two down.
“He got a bit lonely in the last 50 yards, but that’s expected as it’s a lonely place when you are in front that long.
“He had to be hardy and he was. I’m delighted as he’s a deadly horse, everyone loves him in the yard so it’s nice to get his head in front.”
Ger Lyons trained another first-time-out juvenile winner when Atomic Jones (11-2) prevailed in a blanket finish to the Barronstown Stud Irish EBF (C&G) Maiden.
The result may have been different, however, if Shane Crosse had managed to find racing room a stride earlier on Joseph O’Brien’s Point Gellibrand, who was all dressed up with nowhere to go for most of the final furlong.
As soon as he got out Point Gellibrand flew, but failed by a short head with Shark Bay just a nose away in third.
“We’re very happy with him, he’s a big raw horse and he came here to have a day out and to improve,” said assistant trainer Shane Lyons.
“Obviously he has ability to be able to do that. Colin (Keane) said he loved the ground and he’ll be a lovely horse over a trip next year.
“He’s a fine big horse and like one of ours he will improve so we’ll take it from there.”
Leigh Roche excelled on Michael O’Callaghan’s Fastnet Crown (13-2) in the Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes Handicap.
Last in the early stages on the near side, Roche managed to make his way over to the far-side group before coming clear to beat Goodnight Girl by three-quarters of a length.
“He’s so lazy throughout the race that you are always on the back foot,” said Roche.
“I just got there and luckily enough I had something to aim at all the way up the straight.
“He did it well, he shows plenty of ability at home but he just throws it away in the first half of races. It takes him three furlongs to get going and when he gets going he motors home. He was good today.”
Effernock Fizz caused a 22-1 shock in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF “Ragusa” Handicap to provide trainer Katy Brown and Niall McCullagh with a winner.
“She’s been a revelation for us,” said Brown.
“She’s run in a nice handicap here for the past two years and I said to myself ‘there’s no group horse in it this year to beat her’ as last year she was beaten by Mighty Blue and the year before by Kastasa.
“She’s entered for the Grade Three Grimes Hurdle on Thursday and we’ll see how she comes out of this. She was fourth in it last year and if she’s OK she’ll go for it again.”
On a day when both Aidan and Joseph O’Brien saddled winners, Donnacha made sure he did not leave empty handed when Emporio (15-8 favourite) got off the mark in the Finlay Volvo Irish EBF Median Auction Maiden.