by Michael Manley
A dashing front running display and ride from Willie McCarthy on Roland Garros to win the Ecycle Solution Adam Lindsay Gordon Steeple (3600 metres) was the highlight of the four jumps races at Coleraine on Sunday.
After they had jumped three fences, the Irishman let Roland Garros roll in the lead and for most of the event he led by 20 lengths.
That was cut back to 10 lengths with 600 metres and even though he had such a break, he still had to fend off a last-minute challenge from Bee Tee Junior.
In the finish Roland Garros had a length to spare over Bee Tee Junior who put in a great Grand National Steeplechase trial.
McCarthy said he didn’t want to interfere with Roland Garros and decided to let him run."I didn’t want to mess with him too much. He measured his fences well although he was bit chancy at the last. He’ll get better,” McCarthy said “The conditions suited him. He was gutsy and battled on well after the last.”
Declan Maher, who runs the jumps arm of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace’s stable, said it was a dashing ride by McCarthy which paid dividends.
Maher said that McCarthy and fellow stable rider Selim Agbal rode Roland Garros in trackwork and suggested he would be better placed over the fences.
He said Roland Garros had a fall in a steeple trial at Traralgon in late June but that had helped him respect the fences which he now jumped correctly.
Maher said McCarthy deserved the win as he did a lot of work for their stable.
Former leading jumps trainer John Leek comeback as a jumps trainer continued with an impressive hurdle debut win by Castrofrancuru by almost eight lengths in the 3300 metres maiden hurdle.
“He’s a natural jumper with a very big leap. It will be interesting to see how he’ll go over steeples,” Leek said.
He said they would weigh up whether to head to Ballarat for another run or put him away for next year and the Warrnambool carnival.
Leek said after the easy win that the stable was making a bit of a comeback with jumpers.The following race Heir To The Throne, who is trained by his wife Andrea, made it back to back wins when he won the Adam Lindsay Gordon Hurdle Benchmark 120 (3300 metres) by almost five lengths.
Both Leek horses were ridden by Aaron Lynch who took his tally of jumps winners for the year to six.
Andrea Leek heaped praise on Lynch’s ride saying “he was flying.”
She said Heir To The Throne was ultra-impressive to defeat a smart field in that manner.
The powerful Anthony and Sam Freedman stable trained Bedford defied a strong challenge from Sky Hero to win 0-114 Hurdle at Coleraine.
It was the stable’s second winner over the jumps.
Bedford was ridden by Darryl Horner who said that Bedford was a horse with improvement to come.
“He’s a great advertisement for jumps racing. It’s good for the Freedman’s to get a jumps winner,” he said.
The final jumps meeting of the year at Ballarat on August 28 will decide the trainer’s championship for the year.
Roland Garros' win took the Maher and Eustace stable to 12 winners and they are now equal with Symon Wilde.
Steven Pateman has ridden 13 winners and he will chalk up another jumps jockey’s title as he leads Richie O’Donoghue by six winners.