The Christopher Dunne Memorial weekend took place at Portmarnock on the 7th and 8th of September and featured some top quality racing including the memorial three year old race worth €10,000 to the winner. The weekend commenced on the Saturday with two heats for the three-year-old event and four heats for the Red Mills handicap final. The heats would determine the runners for the main events the following day.
A number of British entries made the journey to Ireland and it was the Sally Teeboon trained Ayr Majesty who was favourite in the betting along with Porterstown stables American import Sepia Sands. The two would face each other in their heat but at the finish it was Alan Haythornthwaite and Frisco Fiddler who were victorious. The Haythornthwaite trained son of Arts Conquest seems to like the track at Dublin, having won the Ladbrokes Vinceny Delaney two-year-old event the previous year. John Richardson won the other heat with Glenys Jones’ Kikikiolt gelding Chinatown Kolt. The first three from each heat plus the two fastest losers would make the line-up for the final.
Eight horses went to post in the penultimate race of the weekend, the Red Mills handicap final. Alan Haythornthwaite qualified two horses for the final and opted to drive Stuttgart leaving son James on Rebus, who faced a tough 60-yard trail. The fast pace was set by the two gate runners Coalford Cabrini and Stuttgart. Rebus remained at the tail of the field of the field until the back straight the final time where he moved out to follow Rhyds Boots. In the home straight four horses were in contention of winning with Rebus just getting up to beat Rhyds Boots by a short head with Coalford Cabrini in third and Stuttgart in fourth in a thrilling finish.
The final race of the day was under way and Steve Lees pushed for the front aboard Ontop Girl Charmer, Sepia Sands was able to slot in behind him with Ontop Wye Preach back in third. Chinatown Kolt, Meadowbranch Ash and Ayr Majesty followed with Frisco Fiddler caught on the outside. They remained in this order until the bell where Chinatown Kolt his move with Meadowbranch Ash in hot pursuit. Ash and John Richardson made their move at the right time at the three quarter going three wide and causing Ayr Majesty to go wider still. Ash and Girl Charmer eyeballed each other turning in the final time but it was Ash who was finishing the strongest. He surged home to win by four and a half lengths in a time of 1.58.5. Second place went to stable mate Chinatown Kolt with Sepia Sands in third.
This victory topped a fantastic weekend for Meadowbranch Studs’ flagship broodmare Churchill Queen. She is not only the second dam of Meadowbranch Ash but the dam of Meadowbranch Romeo (12 length winner of the saddle race in 2.01.1 coming off a 50 yard trail) and Meadowbranch Spark (10 length winner of the C Class driver race in 1.59.2).