While Royal Ascot understandably hugged the limelight, normal life goes on and Leopardstown on Thursday evening provided some interesting fare on the home front.
Billy Lee was back fresh from his Royal Hunt Cup success on Settle For Bay, and later that day he was just touched off on Willie McCreery’s Belle Boyd in a Listed race at Chelmsford City.
Now he took the opener here at this sunlit suburban south Dublin track on Highland Fortune for Fozzy Stack.
After a bright start to the season things had gone a little quiet for Fozzy but there has been a noticeable stepping up in the last week or two.
Lee brought Highland Fortune from off the pace for a snug victory.
He had been a steady 11/4 in the market, with 5/2 joint favourites Heavenly Rainbow and Alfona Walde just preferred.
The latter also came in for market support when third at Roscommon and had to settle for the same placing again.
Recent Fairyhouse scorer Heavenly Rainbow had been in the mix until his saddle slipped and he faded to sixth.
Ironically Hyde Park Corner, eight in the Fairyhouse race that Heavenly Rainbow won, finished a staying on second here.
Of the winner Lee said: “He settled into a lovely rhythm and I was able to tuck him in.”
“He picked up real well and is a nice horse for the future.”
Earlier in the day Ballydoyle had struck gold with Hunting Horn and Magic Wand at the Royal meeting, though the defeat of Order Of St George had dampened the party mood a bit.
If there was much confidence in the famed Tipperary yard about Spanish Point’s chances here then it never showed in the betting.
A drifter from “twos” to 4/1 during the day, he went off at 5/1 yet won as he pleased under Emmet McNamara.
Sent to the front early he comfortably held off sustained challenges from 2/1 jolly Dawn Trouper and 9/2 chance Hasimmiya.
In his previous outing Spanish Point had finished last in the Irish 2,000 Guineas but was very much at home in this maiden.
With the main Ballydoyle jockeys all in action at Ascot, McNamara made full use of this opportunity.
“I got an easy lead and he stretched well to the line” he said.
While Spanish Point should win a few more races it’s unlikely this son of Frankel will compete at a particularly high level in the future.
Dermot Weld is based at The Curragh, but it’s noticeable that he often starts off his good juveniles at Leopardardstown.
The Ger Lyons trained California Daddy had shown huge promise in his first two races – including a second to Van Beethoven at Naas – and was the only one punters wanted to know about.
They never got evens – 5/6 was the best of it – and he was sent off at 4/6.
Everything seemed to be going to plan when he eased into the lead two out, but Weld’s first timer and big market drifter – 8/1 to 14’s – Masaff was picking up speed on the outside.
He led at the furlong pole and, while still running a bit green, he stayed on well for Declan McDonogh to beat the odds on favourite by a length.
Surprisingly perhaps it was Weld’s first two year old winner of the season and he said: “He’s a nice colt but very immature.”
“He’s a horse I’ve always liked, he worked very nicely the other morning and handled that (fast) ground well.”
“I’m going to give him a bit of time now, let him fill into that frame of his and hope he’ll make a nice Stakes horse in the second part of the year” he added.
Declan’s Irish Racing Service continues to send out the winners – Settle For Bay 16/1; Flattering 4/1 (won 5/2); Dali 5/2 (w 9/4); Count Simon 9/4;
Exchange Rate 6/5 (w 8/11); Mohawk evens (w 4/7) and each way – Torcedor 16/1 (pl. 14/1) and Land Force 9/1 (pl. 7/1).
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