IRISH reinsman Gabriel McDonagh last night drove his first Australian winner in Ballarat.
He combined with the Chris Lang-trained Kyvalley Rap ($19.10) to take out the Snooze Three-Year-Trotters Handicap, 2200m.
McDonagh, who works for Lang at Nagambie, has had only a handful of race drives and it was a case of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” for the rest of the night at Bray Raceway as he soaked up the moment.
Harness racing in Ireland does not carry the same professional status as it does in Australia and McDonagh said he was delighted to have been given an opportunity by Lang.
McDonagh has now driven Kyvalley Rap three times and going on last night’s patient drive Lang is going to be hard-pressed the separate the combination.
Kyvalley Rap was the first leg of a running double for the Lang stable.
Smart three-year-old Alderbaran Shades ($1.20 favourite) outclassed his rivals with an all-the-way win in the Ryebucks T0/T1 Trot, 2200m.
Lang, who was in sulky, confirmed the outing was a warm-up for the gelding’s first big assignment of the season – the group 1 NSW Trotters’ Derby on May 26.
He has big plans for Alderbaran Shades, with the Victorian Derby and the Australasian Breeders Crown among his major targets.
It was a night for doubles, with Melton trainer Adam Kelly and reinsman Gavin Lang also combining to get two winners — Ashira Bromac ($2.30 favourite) and Seefeel Pocket ($1.90 favourite).