Normandel holds on to take Park Express

Jim Bolger (right) and Kevin Manning landed the Park Express Stakes with Normandel

Normandel clung on grimly to win a thrilling renewal of the Lodge Park Stud Irish EBF Park Express Stakes at Naas.

With trainer Jim Bolger and jockey Kevin Manning having already enjoyed two winners on the season-opening card, Normandel was a 14-1 shot to complete a 5,354-1 treble in this one-mile Group Three.

Dermot Weld’s 6-4 favourite favourite Yulong Gold Fairy looked to be travelling the best approaching the final furlong – but she was unable to reel in the game Normandel, who kept finding under the Manning drive.

The Fozzy Stack-trained Hand On Heart (20-1) flashed home from further back to almost join Normandel on the line, but the judge confirmed Bolger’s charge had held on by a head.

Yulong Gold Fairy was only half a length further away in third.

Bolger said: “She ran well here at the back-end (of last season). I only had her for a while after she came from France. She got a bit tired in the last furlong that day, and we expected that she could build on it.

“She will stay at around seven furlongs or a mile. She won a Listed race in France at a mile and a quarter, but I think she’s better at seven or a mile.

“She handles that ground well. She’s a very sound filly, and I’d imagine she will go on better ground as well.”