Captain Joy (Tracey Collins/Pat Smullen) secured a spot for Good Friday once again when successful in the Sun Bets Race at Dundalk on Friday, January 12.
The mile Polytrack contest was a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Sun Bets All-Weather Mile Championships, run on the same surface at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, March 30.
Geological (Damian English/Rory Cleary) made the early running, with Captain Joy settling in second place after the first furlong.
Travelling sweetly as the field entered the straight, nine-year-old Captain Joy took up the running approaching the final furlong and never looked in any serious danger of being overhauled.
Beach Bar (Richard O’Brien/Wayne Lordan) stayed on to take second, three-quarters of a length behind Captain Joy, with Geological another two and a quarter lengths back in third. The winning time was 1m 37.09s.
Captain Joy is no stranger to success on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, having won the Sun Bets All-Weather Mile Championships in 2016. The hugely-popular grey, who races in the colours of Herb Stanley, also finished a close third in the same race in 2015 and won a mile Fast-Track Qualifier at Lingfield Park in January, 2015.
In total, Captain Joy has now won 10 of his 21 starts on All-Weather surfaces.
A delighted Tracey Collins said: “Captain Joy is a star and I am delighted.
“I knew he would improve for his last run and he loves it here. He is very competitive and was well, so I would have been disappointed if he didn’t win. Saying that, he has got the years under his belt and when you get to his age, you don’t know who is going to turn up.
“He had a great win at Lingfield in 2016. He wasn’t very well last year and didn’t have a lot of racing.
“We planned to come here today. We gave him one run before and we were hoping we wouldn’t have to give him another run to qualify for Lingfield. He has now won three Fast-Track Qualifiers during his career and not many horses do that.”
Jockey Pat Smullen added: “You can’t help but love horses like Captain Joy.
“We have had some very good days together and he has won a lot of prize money. He loves this surface.
“I suppose his age is showing a little bit as he is not as quick into his stride as he used to be and just takes a bit of time to warm into himself, about 100 yards. Once I was sat behind Rory, I was happy. To be fair to Captain Joy, he is all heart.
“Tracey and all her staff treat him like a baby and you can see the rewards of that because they have kept him sweet and happy. The horse’s enthusiasm is unquestionable.
“I think it was always the plan to qualify for Good Friday again and so tonight was important.”