This weekend would normally have been a huge occasion at the Curragh racecourse but given the times we are in the fact that racing is able to go ahead at all is a small mercy.
And a Laois trainer enjoyed the biggest success of his career to date in a thrilling handicap race.
Kieran Cotter from outside Portarlington trained Strong Johnson, who was bred and owned by David Mooney, to win the Paddy Power Rockingham Handicap, which had prize money of €75,000.
Strong Johnson started the 5/2 favourite having been backed in from 13/2 this morning.
“Three horses were to the fore throughout this speed test, with Urban Beat (upset in the stalls) on the stands’ side rail, Jungle Jane, who tacked across from a low draw, and the eventual winner between horses,” reported the Irish Racing website.
“The three raced to the final furlong locked together with Urban Beat just giving best close home.
“It was on the nod between the other pair, and Colin Keane’s mount prevailed by a short head, with the same margin back to the third.
“The winner broke his maiden at Navan last year, and had beaten subsequent Naas winner Son And Sannie in a course and distance handicap earlier in the month. He defied a 9lb higher mark on this occasion.
Winning trainer Kieran Cotter said: “I’m a bit shocked to be honest.
“I know it was a handicap but it’s tough when you have a small yard and you’re trying to compete against the more powerful yards who can win these races with frequency.
“Normally when you do get a chance you get beaten a short-head but today it’s gone our way.
“I told Colin to be positive on this lad as he won’t stop. I feel for Mark Gallagher who was to ride this horse up to declaration time but the weights went up 5lb and Colin got down to his minimum to ride him.
“He’s still a young horse and still maturing. I’d like to give him three or four weeks of summer grass to let him develop a bit more and plan a campaign.
“This is my biggest win without a doubt.
“I teamed up with Danny Murphy a year and a half ago and he brought in a better quality of horse to us. We have super facilities and we are getting better results now.”