Ladies Day Racing In Downpatrick Draws A Crowd

Sunny Day At Ladies Day in Downpatrick

Sunny Day At Ladies Day in Downpatrick

Fermanagh trainer, David Christie who is enjoying a fine season including a double at Ballinrobe last week claimed the Kingdom Hurdle for the second year in succession at Downpatrick writes Joe Kavanagh.

King Kal ridden by Darragh O’Keefe wins the Kingdom Healthcare Handicap Hurdle. (Photos by Jim Masson).

The Derrylin-trained horse King Kal was always handily placed and led on the downhill run under Darragh O’Keefe asserting after the last and galloping strongly to the line to score easily. Favourite Alexharwill (7s to 7/2 favourite ) was under pressure two out and soon beaten. 

Christie said: “ That was a big surprise. I took her to Bellewstown last week and she ran no race. I was going to get her checked out but then saw this race she won last year. It was the same last year she ran badly then won here. 

“Darragh says she loves the ups and downs here… I think on a flat course they go too quick for her. I was going to put Ben Harvey up today to take a bit of weight off but he’s at Cartmel. 

“It’s very hard to plan races here so I don’t know what’s next but while she’s only 15.3 hands she’ll jump a fence in time. She’s won three races now so I’m delighted.” 

Racing under underway in dramatic fashion when half the runners fell or were unseated at the first hurdle in the opening AJC Maiden Hurdle.  Mac’s Express fell resulting in another six runners departing  in the melee including favourite Nonbinding. 

Monrocher set off to make all closely followed by King Kal  – the main obstacle to the leaders being loose horses however on the downhill run the Colm Murphy trained King Kal  (5s to 5/2 ) with Brian Hayes aboard readily overhauled the leader – leading at the final flight and going clear.   

Ask the Leader (blue cap) ridden by Darragh O’Keeffe was the winner of the Kingdom Healthcare Handicap at Downpatrick Races.

Several jockeys were side-lined for the day in the pile up and multiple rider changes were required during the day. Jockey Brian Hayes said: “He won well but I think the race kind of fell apart but we’ll take it. I’m glad I was to the front.

“The loose horses weren’t doing us any favours but we avoided them thank God. I knew I had the measure of the leader, but I was wondering if something would come from behind. 

“I was on the phone to Colm (Murphy) and he said he was happy with him and was hoping for a good run. His jumping was a little bit deliberate at times, maybe it was the undulating track but he got the job done.”

The Ulster Carpets Hurdle went the way of the Martin Brassil-trained Desertmore House (12s to 8/1) under Ricky Doyle.

Desertmore House with Ricky Doyle aboard streaks ahead of Wee Willie Nail to win the Ulster Carpets Maiden Hurdle.

The winner and former point-to-pointer was making a winning debut over hurdles and readily improved into third two out and having chased the leader Wee Willie Nail downhill to lead at the last despite again jumping to his left and soon was clear on the climb to the winning line.  

Doyle said: “He won his point-to-point and is a horse with a lot of experience from his bumper runs. I jumped off and travelled and he is a very laid-back horse so you have to keep codding him along.

Check out the photos by JIM MASSON at the Downpatrick Races

“After jumping the second-last, I started to wind him up and I was quickening before Sam’s (Ewing on Wee Willie Nail) horse so I had to keep rolling with him but he did it well. 

“He was jumping left but leaning right so hopefully there will be a bit of improvement when everything straightens up.”

Denis O’Regan leading rode Sphagnum past the post to win the Downpatrick Racecourse Best Dressed Lady Handicap Hurdle.

The Shane Broderick trained Sphagnum with first time cheek pieces under an excellent ride from Denis O’Regan landed the 80-109 handicap hurdle. The winner was always handy gaining a slight lead at the penultimate flight before leading and going clear after the final flight.

Favourite Getaway Goldie was hard driven from four out and while getting into second at the last faded to finish fourth. 

Richard Conlon rides Uhtred to a win.

The classy Uhtred made a winning debut over fences in the Beginners Chase.  The Joseph O’Brien-trained horse – a winner of hurdles at the track last time with Richie Condon in the saddle – went in pursuit of the leader Blackstair Rocco four out.

However despite the latter giving an exhibition of jumping had no answer when joined by the winner at the last with Uhtred quickening in the style of a good horse.   

Jockey Danny Mullins rides Shantou Sisu up the home straight to win the Downpatrick Handicap Steeplechase.

Shantou Sisu, trained by Bill Lanigan, partnered by Danny Mullins, landed the handicap chase. A good jump four from home saw the winner join the leaders and appeared in control on the downhill run, but the horse screwed over the last and had to resist the persistent challenge of the Ballyclare-trained Zagnzig in the closing stages. 

Lanigan said: “Jockey Danny (Mullins) rides him very well. He’s a very nice horse and is tough and genuine. He’s the same in his work at home, he tries every inch of the road.”  

The finale was a one horse race from a long way out as the Ton Mc Court-trained Dollar Value with the excellent Keith Donoghue in the saddle made all for a facile victory – the winner recording his tenth success including four at the course.

Dollar Value ridden by Keith Donoghue won the DH Handicap Steeplechase.