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Hayes stars again on opening day at Naas and Numerian downs Sir Dragonet

Numerian, gelded at Christmas after failing to win on turf last year, proved too strong for last year's Derby favourite Sir Dragonet to get back to winning ways in the Devoy Stakes at Naas on Monday

Declan McDonogh got a strong response from Numerian, who was winning on turf for the first time in the 1m2f Listed contest. 

Sir Dragonet, last year's Chester Vase winner, moved up effortlessly in the straight to go on with Halimi entering the final two furlongs.

But when McDonogh got Numerian out of a pocket behind them, there was only going to be one winner as he won going away by two and three quarter lengths.

Emperor gets Aidan O'Brien off the mark

Champion trainer Aidan O'Brien looked like suffering a frustrating opening day before Russian Emperor found running room in the nick of time and rewarded in-running punters who backed him.

Sent off favourite at 2-1, having drifted from 6-5, Russian Emperor hit 999-1 in running on the Betfair exchange before nailing Lobo Rojo late on.

Russian Emperor did not have the pace early in the straight in the mile maiden to stay in the front rank and Seamie Heffernan had to switch the Galileo colt round a wall of horses before powering home to pip newcomer Lobo Rojo.

Hayes the hero again on Flat's first day

Chris Hayes again proved the jockey to follow on the opening day of the Flat season in Ireland as he landed a double, headlined by his Group 3 Park Express Stakes win on Lemista.

Punters were expecting Ger Lyons to win the Lodge Park Stud Irish EBF-sponsored mile feature with Even So, who was backed into 5-6 from 13-8 in the morning but she had to settle for third behind her stablemate.

Hayes employed the same tactics that had proved successful on In From The Cold earlier, namely moving midtrack in the straight to overwhelm those who stayed nearer the rail.

This was a fourth double on the opening day for Hayes in the last five years after he had to settle for only one winner on this card last year.

He proved master of the 7f Madrid Handicap, winning the valuable race for the fourth time in the last five years when bringing In From The Cold (8-1) from the back of the 14-runner field.

Winning trainer Michael Mulvany also saddled the third The King Of Kells (13-2), who helped force the pace before giving best with Camachita (12-1) snatching second.

Amazingly, Hayes was winning the race for a fourth different trainer, having been successful for Kevin Prendergast, Fozzy Stack and Richard O'Brien before having to settle for second last year on Black Magic Women for Jack Davison behind the Aidan O'Brien-trained winner Never No More.

Woodford General lands a big gamble on opening day 

Woodford General landed a gamble for trainer Keiran Cotter as he dominated 17 rivals in the 6f maiden.

Rated just 76 after three starts last season, the three-year-old was backed into 7-2 (from 15-2 earlier in the day) and duly obliged the heavy support, breezing clear of runner-up Getawiggleon under Ben Coen to win by seven lengths. 

Cotter said: "We always thought he had a huge amount of potential but until they go and win their maiden you just can't be sure. He's definitely stakes material. He loves this ground and is very tough. We're looking forward to the future with him."

King Of Malta, trained by Aidan O'Brien, was sent off the 100-30 favourite but could only finish third.

Jim Bolger snares the first winner of the season with Poetic Flare

Poetic Flare became the first winner of the Irish Flat turf season when just getting the better of the Aidan O'Brien-trained Lipizzanner in the opening 5f maiden at Naas. 

The 2-1 joint-favourite pulled clear along with his market rival but stayed on the better inside the final furlong to secure a halg-length success under Kevin Manning.

The Blue Panther, trained by Michael Mulvany, was third while Forever My Girl overcame a poor start to finish a staying-on fourth.

The success gave trainer Jim Bolger his fourth win in the race in the last ten runnings, one of which came via Poetic Flare's sire Dawn Approach in 2012.

 

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