Patrick Sarsfield defies 15lb hike to land Navan spoils

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By Tommy Lyons

A 15lb hike up the handicap for a facile success at Leopardstown was not enough to prevent a second success of the season for Patrick Sarsfield, who took the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Nasrullah Premier Handicap for Joseph O’Brien and Declan McDonogh at Navan yesterday.

There was a moment of concern for his supporters when McDonogh had to ask his mount to get to the ones in front, but he came back on the bridle going down into the dip and ultimately won with more in hand than the three-parts-of-a-length victory might suggest.

Runner-up Pesto was backed during the day and the 22-1 chance ran a superb race on debut for Pádraig Roche.

McDonogh said of the winner: “I was impressed by him because I was a little bit worried down the back that he was over-racing a little bit. The horse on the outside was rubbing off his hind quarters and just setting him alight a little bit. But once I got cover, he relaxed, and I was able to nurse him down the hill and fill him up with what energy he had used. He was tough up the hill and was finding plenty.

“It looked a better race on paper (than at Leopardstown). They all take winning but, with that weight on top of him, it was a good performance. Joseph freshened him up after Leopardstown and he felt a lot better today, a stronger and fitter horse.”

Forest Of Dreams quickened in the style of a high-class performer when winning the colts and geldings maiden for Aidan O’Brien and Seamie Heffernan.

Fourth to stablemate Chief Little Hawk on debut, the 900,000gns yearling was given a confident ride this time, allowing Coill Avon first run before sprinting by that rival inside the final furlong.

Delphi doubled up for the Ballydoyle trainer when taking the Royal County Premier Handicap under Wayne Lordan. Winner of a maiden on his return, last weekend, he raced off an opening mark of 88 and proved well up to the task. From the inside stall, Lordan rode him positively and he found plenty to deny the held-up Sacramento.

“I was impressed,” said the winning rider. “He’s tough and he’s hardy, and the step up to a mile and a quarter was always going to suit, from the mile that he won over the last day. He likes to get in a battle and that’s when you see him at his best. He went forward and won well today.”

Of the handicap mark, he added: “He’s lazy through his races and it’s hard to assess him. With a horse like him, you keep running him until such time as they get beat you know where you stand.”

Promising sorts filled the first two places in the National Defense Irish EBF Fillies’ Maiden, with Nimbostratus getting the better of Hazel in a good finish. It was another winner for Ger Lyons and Colin Keane, their filly giving a further boost to the maiden won by More Beautiful. The runner-up, Hazel, has plenty of size and scope and should develop into a smart performer.

Seventh in the Rockingham last weekend, Stanhope, ridden by Rory Cleary, posted a nice performance to win the Beauparc Handicap on his second start for John McConnell.

More than three and a half years after his first success, Noble Intention added a second when taking the first division of the Stackallen Apprentice Handicap under Dylan Browne McGonagle.

It was a similar story in the second division as Giorni Felice, with a record of 1-21, doubled his tally with an easy success for Francis Casey and jockey Nathan Crosse.

In the finale, the Bettystown Qualified Riders’ Maiden, Grade One-winning hurdler Felix Desjy returned from 430 days on the side-line to make a winning Flat debut. Jamie Codd sent Gordon Elliott’s seven-year-old into a huge lead from an early stage and he coasted home unchallenged.

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