British challenger Ummalnar (William Haggas/Chris Hayes, 100/30) made all the running for an emphatic success in the Listed Irish Stallion Farms EBF Cooley Fillies & Mares Stakes at Dundalk tonight, Friday, November 13.
Victory in the mile Polytrack contest, the only Fast-Track Qualifier staged in Ireland during the All-Weather Championships, provides Ummalnar with a guaranteed start in the Ladbrokes Fillies & Mares’ Championship over seven furlongs at Lingfield Park on Finals Day, Good Friday, April 2.
The five-year-old daughter of Shamardal, having just her eighth start, broke smartly from stall 3 and settled into a lovely rhythm at the head of the 14-strong field. Jockey Chris Hayes asked her to raise the tempo at the top of the straight and she readily established daylight between herself and the chasing pack.
Eventual runner-up Surrounding (Mick Halford/Ronan Whelan), a dual winner of this race, was nicely positioned behind Ummalnar throughout but had no response to the winner’s finishing kick. The winning margin was six lengths, with the other British raider Pretty In Grey (Marco Botti/Seamie Heffernan) a length and a half behind Surrounding in third. Pearls Galore (Paddy Twomey/Billy Lee), the well-supported 13/8 favourite, finished fifth.
This was Ummalnar’s second start of the All-Weather Championships, following a third behind Indie Angel in the Listed Ladbrokes EBF Fleur De Lys Fillies' Stakes at Lingfield Park on October 29.
Chris Hayes said: “Ummalnar is a gorgeous big filly and she would really take your eye in the paddock. I spoke to Mr Haggas just before racing and he was very complimentary of her chances – he just said to keep it nice and simple. There was no plan to make it – he said to let her use her stride, get into a rhythm and sit on her.
“I thought I was going steady. I was going down the back and gave her a kick just before turning because I thought I was getting it handy enough but, looking at the replay, everything was flat to the boards.
“When I asked her to quicken, she flicked leads for me just after the two-pole and was home and hosed. It took me half the back straight to pull her up. She is exciting.
“She has beaten Surrounding comprehensively and Surrounding is a fair yardstick – she turns up and runs a good turn every time at that level. Ummalnar has trounced her and I have given her two flicks, but they were needless. I felt I went steady and, when I quickened up, I was waiting for something to finish fast, but she was away on her own.
“When they got to her after the line, she took off and that’s why it took so long for me to pull up. I don’t know what immediate plans are, but I would say that she could step up a grade, definitely.
“Her stride was the one thing Mr Haggas said to me. There were no real instructions, but he said that she has a lovely high cruising speed and a lovely big action, so don’t interrupt it, don’t push or pull. Once I got her out and into a rhythm, I thought she was just doing a lob canter for me in front.
“I was impressed with the way she quickened up and hit the line. She would stay a bit further and has a nice pedigree, so it would be great if she could step up a grade again.
“Mr Haggas has been good to me. I have ridden for him in Dubai and England, and had a lot of placed horses. I was glad to get With Thanks in the Athasi Stakes a couple of weeks ago and glad to get this filly as well. Anytime you get the leg up, you always know that they have a chance and he was very complimentary about this filly’s chances, so I was full of confidence going out there. I am glad that she has done it.”