Downpatrick Races sees local wins.
The third local victory at the penultimate fixture at Downpatrick this year came in the handicap chase when Archies Charm trained beside the Downpatrick racecourse by Brian Hamilton with top jockey Bryan Cooper aboard was a facile winner and could be called the victor some way from home writes Joe Kavanagh.
The local horse which carried top weight was always close up before asserting itself three furlongs from home and duly bolted up for owner David Aiken who operates the Castlewellan-based Herron Horse feeds.
Hamilton said: “We thought we were fairly handicapped. We thought the handicapper would have given him a little bit more and we wouldn’t have got in to a 0-109. We had him entered in Sligo yesterday in a novice handicap and he gave him 109, so we said we would take a chance and run him in this instead of going all the way to Sligo. It worked out grand.
“Jockey Bryan (Cooper) said he jumped brilliantly and he has sharpened up. Long-term he could be an Ulster National horse, so that’s what we will try and aim him for. I’d love to try and come back and win the Ulster National”. Hamilton won it previously with the ill-fated Chief Oscar in 2010.
So Near So Farhh (25s to 14/1) supplied a local victory and landed a gamble in the opening Franco Hughes Hurdle. Trained at Crossgar by Colin McBratney and owned by Comber based James Murdoch Junior the winner with James O’Sullivan in the saddle was always handy prior to improving.
“It led at the last providing the trainer a third success with the ex-Mick Channon-trained mare having won four times on the flat in Britain. Favourite Dazzling Darren had every chance and stayed on to fill second.
Colin McBratney said: “That was badly needed. I’m well pleased for the owner and my staff. Everybody needed it to give us a lift. We tried everything with her – we have been holding her up and we ran her on the Flat in Down Royal to sharpen her a piece and she was just outclassed.
“Today I said to jockey James (O’Sullivan) we have nothing to lose, jump out and be on the premises the whole time and see what happens. We hope the handicapper doesn’t go mad with her and she will slip through somewhere again. James is a great rider and talks a lot of sense when he gets off.”
Willyouwalkwithme and Shane Fitzgerald aboard made all to score in the NI Course Bookmakers Association Hurdle for veteran owner and trainer Harry Smyth. The Ballyclare 84-year old was getting compensation with his Zagnzig having been denied in a photo finish at Sligo on Wednesday.
While the local horse was following up success at the venue in June it always travelled with zest in front while the major gamble on Edmond Dantes (10s to 2/1 favourite) flopped with the horse having improved second before two out soon floundering.
Trainer Harry Smyth said: “That was a good, game effort. Early on (in his career) he was 55 lengths behind Envoi Allen so he’s no fool. He has ability. Today I thought would have been a bit soft for him. Shane (Fitzgerald) gave him a good ride. There was plenty of money for him this morning – I probably started it but it wasn’t all mine. I’m 85 in another three weeks but there will be no partying as I don’t drink. I have just the three horses in training.”
Trainer Henry De Bromhead claimed the opening contest at Downpatrick with ex point-to-pointer, Serenity Grove (12s to 5/1) and jockey Darragh O’Keefe sent to excellent advantage.
The combination were left clear at the final flight as challenger Wild Shot which was joining the winner slipped on landing and sprawled along the ground on his belly prior to finishing third.
The locally trained, The Banger Doyle (4s to 9/4) attempted to make finishing fourth while the eagerly awaited return to the saddle by dual Grand National winning rider Davy Russell absent through serious injury for almost a year filled the runner up spot on The Greek as favourite O’Keeffe said: “He had a good run in a point-to-point when he fell at the last. He showed that day that he had some bit of ability. He travelled away and jumped great there today. Hopefully he can step forward from today.”
The John Mc Connell-trained Ally Cay with Jack Gilligan aboard proved the very easy winner of the Bar One Novice Hurdle. Always close up in running the winner lead two from home and thereafter the race was always in safe keeping for connections and the trainer further enhancing his record at the track.
McConnell said: “She’s a great little mare. She loves it around here and obviously stays very well. She has the flat speed to do them when she needs to. She has turned inside out with the hurdling and is unlucky not to be three from her last three and while jump a fence in time.
“There’s one more meeting here so I will have to enter the whole yard! The horses handle it well here and I love it in Downpatrick.”
Davy Russell appeared set to ride a winner on his return when hitting the front three from home in the Beginners Chase on The Abbey but it was his mount’s stable companion Hurricane Georgie (7s to 100/30) which finished best on the run in to prevail providing trainer Gordon Elliott with a 1-2 in the event.
Elliott said: “I’d say the weight kicked in up the hill (on The Abbey). That was great. She was solid over hurdles but this race was made for her as she was getting all the allowances.”
The long odds-on favourite Top Bandit cantered around in front in the finale with Jamie Codd aboard and very readily dispelled would be challengers to score pulling up and supplying trainer Gordon Elliott with a double.