Doonard Prince is ridden out by Mikey Sheehy
©© Photo Healy Racing
By Donal Murphy
Doonard Prince bounced back to his best as he recorded a ninth career success in the Bective Restaurant Apprentice Handicap.
Without a win since October of 2017, the Ross O'Sullivan trained ten-year-old failed to make an impact in five previous outings this year.
Down to a mark of 45, the son of Footstepsinthesand was available at 33/1 this morning, but eventually went off at 20s under Mikey Sheehy, recording his second success in the saddle.
Never far off the pace, the bay gelding was ridden from the two furlong pole and edged to the front inside the final 150 yards, keeping on well from there to win by three parts of a length in the colours of owner John Bowden.
Mi Esperenza (14/1), who led for much of the contest, had to settle for second under Andrew Slattery for Andrew Kinsella, while Face Off (6/1) kept on into third, another length and a half back.
May Remain (12/1) finished fourth, while Bahlwan, who was returned the 11/2 favourite, could only manage a disappointing seventh.
"It's great for a ten-year-old that had kind of went wrong on us during the summer and had fallen back down to this mark," said O'Sullivan.
"It was the same mark he had fell down to two years ago when he won two at the Curragh. He climbed back up again then.
"Mikey gave him a peach of a ride. I'm sure he's going to ride loads to winners because he was real cool on him, exactly to instructions.
"He ran better than his finishing position last time, only beaten four lengths on good to firm. If you look back all his form is on soft ground and he got it today.
"There is a race here again in two weeks time and if we can just keep the momentum up he could climb again like those sprinters do. They get down to a level and then go again.
"It's great to have him and great for John Bowden. He's with me from the start.
"Most fellas when a sprinter like him gets to ten years of age they start losing faith.
"He was the first winner John ever had and he won five for him. He hung in there all summer long even at some stages when we were scratching our heads and wondering if he was going to come back to himself.
"It's great to get it and it'll keep the show on the road."
* The Stewards requested a report from Ross O'Sullivan, trainer as to the apparent improvement in form of Doonard Prince, placed first, as compared with its recent form. The trainer reported that his charge appeared to appreciate the slow ground conditions at this time of year and felt this had helped to bring about the apparent improvement in form. Having considered the report, the Stewards noted the explanation offered.
* The Stewards interviewed M.P. Sheehy, rider of Doonard Prince, concerning his use of the whip in the closing stages of this race. Evidence was heard from the rider concerned in the presence of Bernard Caldwell, who accompanied M.P. Sheehy. Having viewed a recording of the race and considered the evidence, the Stewards were satisfied that the rider was in breach of Regulation 10.3(g) (frequency). Having taken his previous record in this regard into account, the Stewards suspended M.P. Sheehy for 1 raceday.
* L.T. McAteer, rider of Pleasant Gesture trained by J.J.Lambe, reported to the Clerk of Scales that his mount did not handle the ground and she lost her action at the furlong pole.
Additional reporting by Gary Carson