New flat campaign starts at The Curragh as Jim Bolger wins with second string Missing Matron

Missing Matron was the second-string for Jim Bolger but duly landed the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden at the Curragh.

A field of eight unraced juveniles went to post for the first race to get the Irish Flat turf season underway for 2021

Jim Bolger has won this race on several occasions in recent years.

Kevin Manning was aboard the 7-1 chance Freedom Of Speech while Rory Cleary partnered the 16-1 shot, Missing Matron for the Coolcullen trainer.

Missing Matron broke smartly to snatch an early lead. As soon as she got into her stride, the result looked inevitable because the further this daughter of Vocalised went the better she looked. The winning margin was almost five lengths over It’ll Do My Day, with Freedom Of Speech a creditable third.

Missing Matron impresses for Jim Bolger

Representing her father, Una Manning said: “I just spoke to him there now and he said she has the makings of a very nice filly.

“She has a big future. She did it very well, she handled the ground well and did it like a pro.

“He thought that whichever one of them handled the ground best, that was hard to know in advance, obviously, and she just seemed to handle it a bit better than the other filly.

“She’s something to look forward to and it’s great to be back racing.

On the same card, Joan Of Arc gave Aidan O’Brien an early first winner of the campaign when landing the odds in the Big Picture Communications Fillies & Mares Maiden.

Joan Of Arc wins for the O’Brien-Moore combination

The 4-6 favourite, under a driving finish from Ryan Moore, was made to work hard as she took the seven-furlong contest by a length and a quarter from 80-1 newcomer Approach The Dawn. The partnership showed they were in form when they struck again with the 9/4 favourite, Horoscope, winning by a length and three-quarters.

Joan Of Arc, who finished second on her debut at Dundalk in November, is impeccably-bred being a sister to Group One winners Gleneagles, Marvellous and Happily.

O’Brien is thinking of running her in a Classic trial at Leopardstown next.

“You’d be delighted with her. Ryan said she’d be happier on nicer ground and won’t mind going up to a mile either,” said the Ballydoyle handler.

“We might have a look at the Guineas trial at Leopardstown for her.

“It’s tough going out there first time. He said he was very comfortable on her.”

Downforce mowed down long-time leader Indigo Balance to take the Paddy Power “From The Horse’s Mouth” Podcast Handicap.

Willie McCreery’s nine-year-old knuckled down well for 5lb claimer Nathan Crosse to hit the front in the closing stages of the five-furlong dash.

Downforce (11-1) collared Indigo Balance, who ploughed a lone furrow on the far side of the course in the final half-furlong, to score by two and three-quarter lengths. Ecclesiastical was a head away fourth.

McCreery was also represented by seventh-placed Gobi Desert and said: “It must be tacky enough. I thought all week that it was drying out too much for the two of them, but Nathan said he loved it.

“He jumped out, barrelled along the whole way, and enjoyed himself.

“We’ll go back down to Cork in two weeks for the Listed race that he has won twice.

“It’s great to see him back. He didn’t win a race last year, but was third in a Listed race towards the end of last year and is a good little money earner for Donal Finnan so I’m delighted.”

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