McCain goes close in Leopardstown raid

Ginger McCain went close to scoring with his first runner in Ireland when Zuhair beat all except Norwegian Blue in the pounds 20,000 Joe McGrath Handicap at Leopardstown yesterday.

Breaking fast for Willie Supple, Zuhair held a definite lead at halfway in the six-furlong contest and was still in the front rank heading into the final furlong. But Joanna Morgan had been biding her time on Norwegian Blue and drove the four-year-old to the front in the last 100 yards to score by three quarters of a length with Best Before Dawn third.

"I bought him at Newmarket with the intention of winning a selling hurdle. Thankfully that plan went wrong, and I'd love to come back although I don't have many horses as good as Zuhair for the Flat," McCain observed. Norwegian Blue is trained on the Curragh by former amateur rider Martin Brassil, and his victory represented his most significant success in just his fourth season.

The season's leading trainer Aidan O'Brien scored with his two-year-olds Hopping Higgins and Photogenic, who both outpaced their rivals.