Veteran Prendergast hits jackpotAugust 2, 2012 - 7:00am
Tuesday report by John McIntyre
THE venerable trainer Kevin Prendergast returned to the Ballybrit limelight in spectacular fashion on Tuesday evening when the 7/1 chance Vastonea plunged late to foil cross-channel raider Pintura in a driving finish to the featured Topaz Mile.
The rain arrived just in time for Declan McDonagh’s mount which was giving Prendergast his fifth triumph in the race after staying on stoutly up the hill to collar Pintura and prolific winner Custom Cut inside the final 150 yards.
On a wretched evening marred by incessant rain, the heavily backed favourite and course specialist Rock Critic could only manage fourth as Prendergast landed the Topaz Mile for the first time since Eklim obliged at Ballybrit in 2003.
Winning jockey McDonagh was thrilled with the yard’s triumph in the €115,000 handicap. “I was unlucky not to win on him in Leopardstown the last day, but looking back it was a blessing in disguise. Staying won it today and the soft ground made a big difference.”
Prendergast and McDonagh went on to complete a double in the concluding caulfieldindustrial.com Maiden as 6/1 shot Maude Adams dug deep to lead well inside the final furlong before holding the strong finishing September Lily, which had been impeded around the final bend, by three-quarters of a length.
Those results only added to the woes of drenched racegoers, many of whom could not remember a more hostile day at the summer festival for many years. Most punters were quickly on the back foot after 14/1 chance Face Value upset several much better fancied contenders in the opening Topaz Novice Hurdle.
The hat-trick chasing and 5/2 favourite, Mount Colah, dictated the pace at the head of affairs but quickly ran out of steam after the second last, leaving the finish to be fought out between He’s Our Man, the well backed Ruby Walsh mount, Zuzka, and the eventual winner.
Although the champion jockey didn’t have the clearest of passages on the approach to the last as she tried to close on the two leaders, it’s doubtful if the outcome was affected as the Adrian McGuinness trained Face Value revelled in the soggy conditions to pull clear by three and a half lengths.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.