Excellent weather for Ladies Day at Downpatrick Races – but no ladies or punters allowed in yet to the race meetings across Ireland.
Jonathan Moore on the Gavin Cromwell-trained favourite Western Run in the opener was content to wait in fourth as Marmolata set a relentless gallop delivering his challenge to lead at the last and win easily writes Joe Kavanagh.
Cromwell said: “It was a pity not to win a bumper with him. Joey Dunne was riding him in bumpers and he didn’t do anything wrong. He was just unfortunate and kept running into one. The day he got beat in Kilbeggan, the winner went on to win in Galway. I’m delighted he got his head in front. He deserved that.”
Claiming rider, Mike O’Connor was another to ride a waiting race on Crimson Chief to prevail for owner/trainer, John Morrison.
The winner waited in fourth before making progress on the downhill run and lead after the last but then had to resist the persistent challenge of Paula’s Prayer on the run to the line.
O’Connor was riding his first winner over jumps having transferred from the flat while the trainer was rewarded for the trip from Waterford.
O’Connor said: “It was a good opportunity for him. He was travelling well – a track like this will suit him down to the ground and the ground suited him as well.”
The Paul Nolan-trained Knot On Time following a couple of placed efforts at the track opened his account with Sean O’Keefe in the saddle who was registering his first winner at the unique track.
The principals in the market flopped with Kendancer making a very bad mistake two from home and pulled up while Papal Lodge was always struggling in the rear.
Jockey Sean O’Keeffe said: “He had a bit of experience around here before and today he jumped better and travelled well. He stayed going to the line well.”
The Beginners Chase saw the Gordon Elliott-trained pair including short priced favourite, Braid Blue depart at the first fence.
Somptuex and Lister Eddman were left in the lead for most of the race however Dollar Value with Conor Mc Namara aboard arrived late and wide to score for trainer Tom Mc Court with the winning jockey having his first ride for the trainer and gaining his first win at the venue.
McCourt said: “I told him (Conor McNamara) to put him asleep for the first half because he can get a bit free – drop him out, hunt him for the first round and tip away and hope for the best after that. “
Multiple runners had claims on the downhill run in the Giltspur Hurdle. However, the Liam Cusack-trained Basil’s Boy partnered by Eoin Walsh which had travelled wide over most of the race threw in a big jump at the last to seal success.
Cusack said: “He ran a lovely race in Tramore and the race didn’t really go to suit him – he got left in front and it was not ideal.
“But today they went a nicer gallop and he (Eoin Walsh) was able to get him relaxed. I’ve popped him over a fence – so we’ll see.
“I’ll probably put him into a better race now off a lighter weight.”
Adding stable star Snugsberry Benny would be entered for the Kerry National at Listowel but the going would determine if he runs while stating the Aintree Grand National was the ultimate aim.
Conor Orr hugged the rail on Bridge Native behind the leading sextet in the handicap chase before producing the Dot Love trained mare to lead at the last and go clear with the front running Rocky Court runner up in the handicap chase.
Assistant trainer Ciaran Murphy said: “She’s a specialist around those tight tracks – Tramore, here, even Kilbeggan now. She jumps so well and makes ground.”
The concluding bumper produced a dramatic result. Walking Fame with one of the most famous names in racing, Pat Taaffe, (named after his grandfather – the legendary rider of Arkle) in the saddle on the horse trained by his father Tom, saw the rider record his first winner.
However, the winner wandered on the uphill climb then veered left close to the line hampering both runner-up Deo Bellator and I A Connect. A stewards enquiry followed and surprisingly the first past the post kept the race.