Punters bask in sun at Downpatrick weekend races
On Saturday 17 June, the first of the two-day race meetings took place in Downpatrick and the Gordon Elliott-trained Mel Monroe partnered by Danny Gilligan gave a good display in the opening Mares Hurdle to score and open her account on her return to action writes Joe Kavanagh.
The mare strongly supported in the betting ran second until leading two from home prior to going well clear after the final flight. She collected an additional £5,000 under the ITBA scheme as well as winning the most valuable race of the day. Elliott said: “She’s a nice mare is a good mare.”
Willyouwalkwithme looked likely to supply a local winner having been given a terrific ride by John Shinnick when coming between horses to lead after the final hurdle.
However, Moonovercloon (10s to 3/1) which had been last for most of race and very unlikely to be involved stayed on the outside to win the handicap hurdle.
It was the second winner of the week for James Smith son of Matthew who trains the horse having only recently turned professional. Smith Junior said: ”I thought he might pull up at one stage.
“he’s a tricky horse and not an easy ride but half a mile out he started to go forward. He ran well in a bumper here before but was never travelling today for most of the race until late.”
Susie Millar landed the Randox Hurdle for trainer Sam Curling with Adam Ryan aboard the race restricted to amateur riders.
The winner always handy got a dream run up the inside rail in the straight to win. Ryan said: “ That’s my eighth winner. She did it well and really stayed on well up the hill. I’d say she could even step up (in trip) again and she should improve again.
“I was talking to Sam and everyone, and they were all quite keen on her today. It’s my first winner for Sam and I’m with Andy (trainer Slattery) every day. She is very nimble over her jumps and she enjoys racing.”
The Declan Queally -rained Bel Kauto partnered by Shane Fitzgerald proved the ready winner of the Tote chasing completing a hat trick since joining his new trainer.
Fitzgerald said: “ That’s my fifth winner this season and I lost my claim last week.” Queally added: “We’ll see how he comes out of today. He’s in riding on Tuesday (at Wexford) with a penalty and I think he would have 12st 5lb. We’ll see about Shane riding him, we might have to claim off him.”
The very well backed Sphagnum trained by Shane Broderick with Dillon Maxwell in the saddle claimed the beginners chase in easy fashion with favourite Run For Pat crashing out four from home leaving Some Dove clear and second.
Maxwell said: “The plan was just to spin him around, he had a fall the last day at the last, and today the plan was just to get him around jumping safe and get him to finish his race.”
Iridescent trained by Jonathan Fogarty with Kieran Callaghan aboard produced a very sold effort to win the Tennents Chase.
Callaghan said: “ He had a good look at the early fences but soon warmed up. I was in front far too early but didn’t want to disappoint him. In fairness to him, once we got into that rhythm he was good.”
Abi’s Champ trained by Willie Mullins with son Patrick proved much superior to rivals in the concluding bumper – leading in the dip and bolting clear.
Mullins Junior said: “She was very green in Punchestown, but even her work in the winter was all very laboured.
“We gave her a break and she is a different mare now. Much quicker and much more on the ball.
“I don’t know what the plan will be – I’d love for her to go for a winners’ bumper, but Willie might want to go jumping.”