Handicap debutant Astronomer, winner of his maiden at Galway last time, justified favouritism for Aidan and Donnacha O’Brien in the featured Thatch Bar And Restaurant Handicap in Bellewstown last night.
The three-year-old Galileo colt, sent off 6/4 favourite, readily mastered front-running Warnaq with more than a furlong to race and stayed on stoutly to beat The Mouse Doctor by four lengths, clearly appreciating the step-up in trip, having won his maiden over an extended mile.
Winning rider Donnacha O’Brien, now twelve clear of reigning champion Colin Keane in the battle for the Jockeys Championship commented: “He was fine on the better ground. It’s good safe ground, with a bit of juice in it, but better than he raced on in Galway.
“The step-up in trip suited him and he’s improving with racing.
“He did it well and is ready to step up again in class. He only does enough, but he’s a nice, progressive stayer.”
Gordon Elliott’s team is in top form and Power Down followed the trend being shown by his two-year-olds, when building on his debut fourth at Fairyhouse to land the Foran Equine Irish EBF 2-Y-0 Auction Maiden at the expense of fast-finishing favourite Queen Ryker and Will Be King.
Declan McDonogh’s mount, a son of Helmet, held the favourite by a half-length and Elliott commented: “He’s still a bit green and hit the road. Declan said he’ll improve again.
“He hit the line well and I’d say he’s versatile distance-wise. The horses weren’t right for a long time, but they’re flying now and the two-year-olds seem to be improving with every run.”
The Willie McCreery-trained Nitro Boost, a Dandy Man filly, narrowly beaten on her recent debut at the Curragh, justified odds-on favouritism in the five-furlong Peter O’Keeffe Memorial 2-Y-0 Maiden, a race her trainer won with Abamanova last year.
Ridden by Billy Lee, she came through to lead inside the final furlong before holding the consistent but luckless Arabic Challenge by a half-length, prompting her trainer to comment: “She’s owned by a Russian Syndicate (the Imperial Crown Syndicate) and this s the second filly I’ve run for them, so it’s grand to win with her.
“They board the horses in Swordlestown and they’re managed by Tony Watkins.
“They’ve been very patient. She looked a real early type, but she started growing and I had to give her some time off. She’s a nice filly, travelled great and, when Billy asked her, she shot through the gap. She hit the road and got unbalanced, but won well enough. We might have a look at the premier nursery in Navan on Saturday week, if the ground doesn’t get too soft and then we might chase some black type for her.”
Trained locally by Ado McGuinness and ridden by Shane Foley, back from riding in an International Jockeys Challenge in Japan at the weekend, Pillar broke smartly and was never headed in the five-furlong Holcroft Peugeot Drogheda Handicap, holding the determined challenge of favourite Little Clarinet.
No claims were lodged for any of the runners in the opening Eva Tec Ltd. Claiming Maiden, won in emphatic style by the well-drawn Akua, ridden for Eddie Lynam by champion apprentice Oisin Orr to beat Zalzar and favourite Lady Godiva.
“She’s very honest and tries hard,” stated Lynam.
“Oisin was clever on her early because they went plenty quick.
“It’s hard to win maidens in this country, so this was a nice level for her.”