Chief Little Hawk got the better of Monaasib in a thrilling finish to the inaugural Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes at Naas.
The six-furlong contest offered 149,200 euros to the winner and duly drew 19 runners, with Tom Dascombe’s British raider Devious Company sent off the 2-1 favourite following his second place in a sales race at York just three days ago.
However, he failed to take a hand in the finish, with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Chief Little Hawk and Kevin Prendergast’s Monaasib battling it out in the dying strides.
Chris Hayes looked to have made a winning move on Monaasib as he collared leader Measure Of Magic inside the distance, but Seamie Heffernan launched Chief Little Hawk up the stands side rail, with the Ballydoyle inmate responding in style.
He and Monaasib were neck and neck at the line, but Chief Little Hawk (22-1) got the nod by a short head, with the pair two and a half lengths clear of another fast finisher, Mooniesta, in third.
Devious Company found little for pressure and finished ninth.
Heffernan said: “He was one of our Ascot horses and was impressive at Navan. The last day at the Curragh, he ran out past the line, so I was coming here fancying him today.
“Today was his first try at six furlongs and he got it really well. There is a chance that he might get another furlong and if he does, he’s got loads of speed to travel right.
“I thought I’d won, but at Killarney the other day I thought I’d won well and it was only a nose (on So Wonderful), so maybe my eyesight is not as good as it was!”
Heffernan also bagged the consolation event, the Silver Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes aboard 50-1 chance Sweet Gardenia.
The Showcasing filly had been well beaten in her two previous starts for trainer John Murphy, but she came good on the big occasion, running out a stylish three-and-a-quarter-length winner to take home the first prize of 40,000 euros.
Heffernan, who also claimed the Group Three Stanerra Stakes aboard Passion, was completing a 5,227-1 treble which secured 227,550 euros in total win prize money.
He said: “Ballyhane Stud deserves a huge amount of praise, not only for putting on this big race but also an 80,000 euros consolation race. It’s massive.”
George Murphy, son and assistant to the winning trainer added: “We’re delighted with that. She was just a little bit green on her first couple of runs.
“She did that very well and Seamie said she’s well able for a step up in class and she felt like a Group filly.
“We were a little bit worried about the ground, but he said she coped with it well.”