Captain Joy made a tremendous comeback at Dundalk tonight, Friday, February 12 for a cosy win in the €25,000 Ladbrokes Fast-Track Qualifier at Dundalk because he underwent colic surgery last year.
The grey seven-year-old, trained by Tracey Collins and partnered by regular rider Pat Smullen, is a real favourite at Dundalk and this was his seventh victory at the Irish All-Weather track. He had not raced since June 27 last year.
He broke well from the stalls as Geological (Damian English/Donagh O’Connor, 16/1) took the four-strong field along at a steady pace.
Captain Joy, the 4/5 market leader, raced a close second followed by Political Policy (Gavin Cromwell/Conor McGovern, 5/2) and Bishan Bedi (Aidan O’Brien/Ana O’Brien, 4/1).
The winner moved up to challenge with two furlongs remaining, took the lead with over a furlong to go and was always holding the renewed challenge of Geological who kept on well to go down by half a length. Bishan Bedi snatched third on the line, a length and a half behind the runner-up. The winning time was 1m 39.54s.
It was both a relief and a thrill to Collins that Captain Joy came through this test as well as he did. The colic surgery took place at the Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital, next to the Curragh Racecourse.
The Curragh-based handler said: “I am absolutely delighted and very, very pleased that Captain Joy has run so well as his colic surgery was not too long ago – in the middle of the autumn.
“He ran so well on Finals Day of the All-Weather Championships last year and we wanted him to have another chance on Good Friday if at all possible.
“But he was a very sick horse and you never know how they will recover from surgery.
“He was a very consistent and tough horse before and he has come through this test well.
“Pat gave Captain Joy a superb ride and looked after him during the race, giving him a breather and not being hard on him in the closing stages.
“We will train him for the mile final and he can go straight to Good Friday now, having won tonight’s Fast-Track Qualifier. He should come on for the race.”
She added: “Captain Joy was one of the last horses that the late Ned Gowing (the founder and senior partner of Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital who passed away on October 1) looked after for us.
“I have never been so apprehensive and worried coming to the races as the horse is a real family pet.”
Tonight’s mile contest was the first of four Fast-Track Qualifiers at Dundalk and Captain Joy is guaranteed a free start in the £150,000 Ladbrokes Mile at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, March 25.
Captain Joy was beaten a neck and a neck by Grey Mirage (winner) and Sovereign Debt (second) in a thrilling finish to the Ladbrokes Mile on Good Friday, 2015, with a head back to the fourth Tigers Tail.
He has already won over the course and distance at Lingfield Park, capturing a Fast-Track Qualifier in January last year.