Pondus recorded his first victory since joining Joseph O’Brien with a determined display in the Lenebane Stakes at Roscommon.
The son of Sea The Moon was formerly trained in Britain by James Fanshawe, for whom he won two races last season before going on to be placed at Listed and Group Three level.
He was gelded and then moved yards after finishing last of nine runners in the Champion Stakes at Ascot last October, and the four-year-old made a promising start for his new connections when runner-up in the Listed Martin Molony Stakes at Limerick three weeks ago.
Pondus was the 6-4 favourite to go one better in this mile-and-a-half Listed contest – and while it was hard work for all involved in the rain-softened ground, the market leader knuckled down admirably under Wayne Lordan to get the better of Camphor by just over two lengths.
O’Brien’s assistant, Brendan Powell, said: “It was nice to get his head in front. Wayne said he coped with the ground, but wouldn’t say he was in love with it.
“They didn’t go any sort of gallop – and Wayne thinks, in a better race with a stronger gallop, he’ll be a better horse. At two (furlongs) out you wouldn’t have given him a lot of a chance, but he stays well and toughed it out.
“At least we know he’s tough and he’s coped with every sort of ground. On today, you would say he could get further, and he might be an Australia horse for Mr (Lloyd) Williams (owner). We’ll see what Joseph says.”
O’Brien was completing a quick double on the card after landing the preceding Property Partners Earley Apprentice Handicap with 5-2 favourite Isotope, ridden by Mikey Sheehy.
Jessica Harrington also continued her excellent season with a couple of winners – landing the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden with No Speak Alexander (13-2) and the Athlone Handicap with Yulong Pearlisland (100-30), both ridden by Shane Foley.
On Killarney’s evening jumps card, Peter Fahey’s evergreen and hugely adaptable Peregrine Run successfully defended his crown in the Grade Three BoyleSports An Riocht Chase.
The 10-year-old passed the post in front with significantly more in hand than he had here last May too, pouncing at the second last under Kevin Sexton and staying on well to hold the rallying Robin Des Foret by two and three-quarter lengths as the 11-8 favourite.
It was summer jumping star Peregrine Run’s 17th career success, and a fifth victory at one of his favourite tracks.
He was a hugely creditable fourth in last year’s Galway Plate – but Fahey is contemplating an alternative plan at the Festival this time, after Peregrine Run tuned up for this assignment with an encouraging performance on only his second career start on the Flat at Limerick last month.
The County Kildare trainer said: “Every year we go to Galway in the form of our life, and he ran a cracker in the Galway Plate last year but would probably have a better chance in the amateur handicap than the Plate – because every year the chase track ends up getting too soft for him.
“For him specifically, he wants very quick ground – for every other horse in the place you’d be thinking it is lovely – but we’re thrilled and are lucky it wasn’t Roscommon (on heavy today).
“He is a joy to have in the yard, and there is a fair chance he could come back here next week for an amateur riders’ maiden – who is going to ride him I’m not sure, and there could be a row in the camp at home!
“He would then have a handicap mark for the Flat and could go for the amateur handicap at Galway.”
Everlastingpromise was an impressive winner of the valuable BoyleSports Bourn Vincent Memorial Handicap Chase.
Jan Maat was bidding to be a fifth consecutive winning favourite on the card but could never keep tabs on the leaders, and instead it was Enda Bolger’s improving six-year-old who surged home 13 lengths in front, off a low weight, at 3-1.
Darragh O’Keeffe always had the winner close to the pace – and as the opposition wilted in the ever softening ground, they had the race in the bag from two out, with Smithscorner running on to be second in front of gallant top-weight Ornua.
The winning jockey said: “He is on springs and travels really well.
“He has improved the whole time and is a really good spin.
“He made one little mistake early on when I left him alone and he guessed a bit – but other than that, he was foot-perfect and did it well.”