Penultimate Race Meeting At Downpatrick Races In The Sun But Public Excluded For H&S Reasons Due To Covid-19.
Local trainers supplied the first four home in the handicap hurdle at Downpatrick races last FRiday writes Joe Kavanagh.
The winner, British Art trained at Armagh by Keith Watson with Barry Browne aboard, made all and despite the strong challenge of Luis Naturea after the last flight kept on to win easily.
Watson said: “He’s back to form. We had a season there of him out of form. We thought he was working well at home but he has done that before. He won twice in Newcastle and was placed in Dundalk.
“Dundalk then went too hard for him but it’s an option now it has been re-laid [racing surface]. ” The local track appears lucky for the Armagh trainer having won the Ulster Grand National with Amaulino last year.
Racing got underway when The Shunter (7/4 – 5/2) partnered by Brian Hayes defied an enforced 60 day absence to score easily for trainer, Emmet Mullins.
The winner was subject to a stewards’ enquiry following his last effort at Tipperary in July following which the horse was banned from running for 60 days, jockey Hayes banned for 21 days and Mullins fined £6,000 under the non-trier rule.
The locally-trained I’m On Snap attempted to make all prior to fading in the closing stages while runner up Tullybeg looked the winner jumping the last but was quickly pasted by the winner of the £10,000 maiden hurdle, The Shunter.
Hayes said: “I think the hood made a big difference. He didn’t have the hood before, so I think today it really helped him settle. Getting him settled was key. Emmet did a great job getting him here and putting the hood on him. I think it has crowned him.”
Jack Kennedy again highlighted his skills when partnering Fancy Foundations to victory in the Ulster Carpets Hurdle. The Gordon Elliott-trained winner was fourth for most of the race but delivered with a decisive run from three out to win going away.
The young rider having sustained a broken leg at the Dublin racing festival in February has just return to action. Kennedy said: “I am delighted. Fancy Foundations has done it well. He was probably entitled to do it too. We thought a bit of him last year on his work but he has been fairly disappointing. It’s great to return from my injury and hopefully touch wood I’ll have a good year.”
Scully’s Dream made a bold bid to front run in the handicap chase, however, Denis O’Regan delivered Give Him Time in the shadow of the winning post to provide trainer Gordon Elliott with a double.
O’Regan said: “He jumped well and appreciated a bit nicer ground. He had plenty of experience. He has been running in England and Ireland.” The Cullentra handler completed a 95/1 hat trick of victories when Off Your Rocco with Jamie Codd in the saddle challenged in the dip and won the finale in empathic fashion.
Sexton was another jockey to promote himself riding Ardlaghs Choice in the Rated Novice Hurdle. Thatbeatsbanagher was hard ridden to lead from the start. However, Sexton was content to sit second for most of the race travelling easily before joining and out jumping the leader two from home and leading before the last went clear to record a facile victory for trainer, Dusty Sheehy.
Sexton said: “It looked a decent enough race. They went a good gallop which suited me. All he does is stay, he won over three (miles) the last day. Dusty( Sheehy) just said to keep it simple like the last day. In fairness to him he’s just been improving and he has improved again.”
The John Mc Connell-trained Itsalonglongroad with Mark Bolger aboard established a clear lead and went on to make all with the always second Thisonesforollie finishing runner up and the Ballyclare trained, 125/1 chance Zagnzig following a big jump at the last gaining third in the Beginners Chase. Bolger said: “This was a great run for his first run over fences. John (McConnell) was happy with his schooling at home.
“He’s not an easy horse to settle in a race, so the fact he jumped so well we said we would make use of it. He should be a nice horse going forward.”
A minute’s silence was observed at the meeting to remember nine times Irish Champion jockey, Pat Smullen who died earlier in the week at the meeting.