Seamie Heffernan was delighted to secure his first winner in well over a month after Laburnum led home a one-two for Aidan O’Brien in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Hurry Harriet Stakes at Gowran Park.
The leading rider not only had go into quarantine for 14 days after riding in the Derby at Epsom on July 4 and Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly the following day, but also served a 22-day suspension for his use of the whip aboard Order Of Australia in the French Classic.
Having been out of luck on his first two rides since returning earlier in the day, Heffernan jumped on board Laburnum – a winner over the course and distance on her racecourse debut and the 4-5 favourite off the back of finishing fourth in last month’s Irish Oaks.
Her stable companion Ennistymon was only eighth in the Curragh Classic, but had previously filled the runner-up spot in both the Oaks at Epsom and the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot – and was rated the main danger to Laburnum in the Listed feature as a 3-1 chance.
The market proved a good guide to how the race would pan out, with the O’Brien pair the only two still in with a realistic chance of winning racing inside the two furlongs, and it was Laburnum who won the battle by a length and a quarter.
Heffernan said: “Her last run was a very good run in a Group One.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to make (which filly to ride), but I just thought this trip would suit her better than Ennistymon and sometimes Epsom can be a tough track to come out of.”
Commenting on his return to action, he quipped: “I’m very hungry and I’ve bills to pay!”
Heffernan went on to complete a double aboard Tony Martin’s 16-1 chance Jungle Jungle in division one of the Bet 10 Get 20 With MansionBet Handicap.
However, there was a sting in the tail for Heffernan, who received a four-day suspension for careless riding from the stewards, which he felt was unjust.
Jockey manoeuvres are the subject of much discussion currently, and Heffernan told Racing TV: “I felt I was harsh done by. I was on the best horse in the race, following two horses down to the furlong pole. It was either sit and finish on the bridle or make a little bit of a manoeuvre and get out and win easy.
“I believe if I’d sat on the bridle, I should have been brought in for not trying. It’s a very tricky situation we’re going through at the moment – some people are good talkers who get people to listen, but some of these people passing remarks have never ridden in races.
“I just want to make the point that the only other option I had was to finish off the bridle and to have people saying ‘what’s racing all about, he never tried’. I was doing my best for the trainer and the owner.”
He added: “Nobody wants to be dangerous. It’s not win at all costs, but it’s win if you can – as long as it’s not dangerous.”
The Dermot Weld-trained Wuqood (12-1) is expected to go on to bigger and better things after making a winning debut in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.
Ridden by Oisin Orr, the Dubawi colt displayed a smart change of gear to challenge for the lead inside the final furlong and managed to get the better of a pulsating battle with Liffey River by a short head, with 4-7 favourite Harvard only third.
Kris Weld, assistant to his father, said: “He’s a beautifully bred colt. His dam (Tarfasha) was second in the Oaks and won the Blandford and hopefully he will be an exciting horse for next year.
“We’ll probably give him one more run this year in a Group race. He’s still very green, but I thought it was a nice performance.”
Johnny Murtagh continued his excellent run of form with a 437-1 treble.
Nikita Amelia Kane reduced her claim from 10lb to 7lb by steering Lord Rapscallion (14-1) home in front in the opening MansionBet Beaten By A Head Handicap, before stable companion Springbank (8-1) landed the MansionBet Supporting Irish Racing McEnery Cup under Gary Halpin.
Murtagh said: “Lord Rapscallion is in great form and goes well for Nikita – it’s unbelievable the way she has clicked with him.
“I think seven furlongs is good for him, so we might look at the big handicap at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend.
“I told the owners that I’d be very disappointed if Springbank wasn’t fighting out the finish today. I think a mile and a half is a really good trip for him and should be another for Champions Weekend.”
The trainer’s hat-trick was completed by the Danny Sheehy-ridden Laggata (9-4 favourite) in division one of the Irish EBF Supporting Irish Champions Weekend Fillies Maiden. Sheehy doubled up in division two of the Bet 10 Get 20 With MansionBet Handicap aboard Tom McCourt’s 12-1 shot Highway To Heaven.
Division two of the fillies’ maiden went the way of Oh So True (11-2), trained by Donnacha O’Brien and ridden by Wayne Lordan.
“She’d a few good runs and was starting to get slightly frustrating, but it’s nice to get her head in front,” said O’Brien.
“I think she is going to be better next year if we get to keep her and we’ll try and get black type somewhere.”