“It wasn’t the plan to make it,” said a smiling Chris Hayes after dismounting Star Harbour in the Navan Winners’ enclosure on Sunday (May 30), and while that was the case, “plan B” ended up being very effective.
The Phoenix Thoroughbreds owned runner took the feature race on the card eight race card, making every yard and crossing the line with a bit to spare. It wasn’t the first time the son of Sea The Stars had been in front at the winning post, but his Dundalk “success” was chalked off in the Stewards room. However, there would be no doubt about his win on Sunday, recording a winning margin of over three lengths in the Premier Handicap.
Breaking well from the stalls, the Ado McGuinness trainee looked a little keen in the early stages and found himself leading the strong looking field. Although exuberant, he seemed to find a rhythm and when the field turned for home, it was noticeable that a few of his main rivals were one by one coming off the bridle. Star Harbour was the last to be asked the question and just for a few strides, it seemed as though the pack would come to swallow him up, but as the pressure arrived, he found plenty to kick on again.
“Ado was adamant I had to get him out today as he has been slow away and try and sit 4th or 5th,” continued winning rider, Hayes. “But I overdid the getting out tactics and ended up jumping in front. I had to go to plan B, but he loved it out in front, pricking his ears and lobbed away. He wasn’t doing much until he was challenged and I didn’t really ask him until the furlong pole. He did it well and will probably stay a bit further.”
Connections have always had a high opinion of the three-year-old and are leaning towards targetting the Ulster Derby with a horse that should be able to win a few more big prizes this season.