Racing

Jim Bolger lands Magners Ulster Derby with Clongowes

STANDFIRST

Clongowes (extreme left) on his way to winning the Magners Ulster Derby at Down Royal on Saturday
Shaun O'Dea

JIM Bolger – the Master of Coolcullen – claimed the Magners Ulster Derby for the third time in four years when Clongowes landed the £100,000 Maze feature with Ronan Whelan aboard.

The horse – named after a prestigious college in Clane, County Meath – is owned by Godolphin. Finn Mc Cool and Clongowes always headed affairs in the Ulster Derby with the winner asserting after the turn into the straight as Wingingit and Tilly's Chilli gave chase.

Ronan Whelan recording his first Derby success said: “I came here today hoping that he'd get the job done. I spoke to the boss and spoke to Kevin Manning last night and they were very sweet about him. He's been hitting the crossbar a lot so it's nice to get his head in front.

“He's just a big galloper and he'll never do anything flashy. That's why I was always close to the pace as I didn't want to give him too much to do. The boss always seems to line one up for here and he fitted his profile today. He had a couple of good runs and was nicely weighted.”

Adding “We had Stellar Mass here last year who went on to be third in the Irish Derby. I know it's only a handicap but it always takes a nice horse to win this.”

Delighted Maze manager, Mike Todd was still on a high yesterday saying: “I'm thrilled with the success of the Summer Festival. We had a record crowd of in excess of 7,500 on Derby Day and the atmosphere was electric.

“Everyone enjoyed the event and the various attractions on the day. Special thanks to my team at the course, the ongoing sponsors, the trainers who supported the racing over the two days and the public who turn out big time and in style befitting Derby Day. It will take a couple of days for the buzz to leave even myself.”

The manager of the Lisburn course can take great credit with the attendance being three times the turn-out at the recent Curragh Guineas fixture.

Whelan was completing a double on the day, having scored earlier on Cappadocia, which denied the locally-trained, Bien Chase [20/1 to 8/1] by a neck.

The last named, trained by rookie Armagh handler Adrian McAllister, who has taken out the trainer's license following the very sad recent passing of his boss, Lady Jane Gillespie – the runner up carrying her colours. Duncan Of Scotland filled third for Moira trainer Lee Smyth to maintain his Derby day record of runners.

Caledon trainer Andy Oliver had to wait until the last race to register a winner when Gustavus Vassa, with Chris Hayes aboard, made a winning debut for the County Tyrone trainer.

Oliver said “He's a lovely horse. He's a horse I've been waiting on for a while. He's very big, very backward and raw. He's always showed a great attitude – we've always liked him and we just waited. It's only this last month that we thought 'yes it's coming'.

“There is a good deal to come. He showed a great attitude and Chris gave him a great ride. I told him he's going to be inexperienced and you're just going to have to deal with it in the race. He left him alone and it was a great ride. He battled well. We always thought this would probably be his minimum but he's not short of toe.”

Dragon Fei, in foal to Dandy Man, won the Coolmore Ulster Oaks at her third attempt for trainer Dermot McLaughlin and jockey Billy Lee, while the winning trainer said: “Billy said she hated it but they went quick enough for her and she had something to aim at. She is coming near the end of her racing days.”

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