Downpatrick horse racing goes ahead behind closed doors.
Horse racing went ahead again at Downpatrick racecourse again on Sunday behind closed doors due to Covid-19 health restrictions writes Joe Kavanagh.
Had all things been normal, with the sun splitting the stones, a bumper crowd would have been guaranteed.
Top performer The Trigger completed a remarkable successive fifth victory for owner and trainer Ronan McNally in the Toals Handicap Chase. Top jockey Mark Walsh was content to wait until jumping into the lead three from home to win under a hands and heels ride.
The local horse has won both over hurdles and fences to complete his five timer for the Armagh trainer and son, Tiernan, the winner’s regular work rider at home.
Mc Nally said of the veteran eleven year old: “We thought he would win today. He’s just thriving at present. He keeps improving and eats every nut of his feed.
“He’s bouncing at home and fresh as paint. Mixing hurdles and fences has kept him sweet. This year we have trained him differently, letting him carrying a lot of weight and we take him to the beach and don’t gallop him.
“The Trigger has been doing some hunting and cross country events with my son Tiernan and it has turned him inside out.
“We have no plans at present but will see what comes up. Sean Flanagan (our regular jockey who is injured) gets a lot of credit but Mark was amazing on him today. We are in the mix for six now!”
The opening race proved a one-horse contest when the Tom Gibney trained, Rhythm Devine made all and jumping superbly in the hands of Darragh O’Keeffe scored for favourite backers. What Wonders Weave tracked the favourite but having run only on Friday night had no answer to the winner finishing runner up.
Gibney said: “In fairness she is a brilliant jumper. We thought she would appreciate the good ground. It was just whether she was fit enough really and she was, so we are delighted.”
Dollys Destination (18s to 17/2) supplied a local victory in the Randox Hurdle rapidly cutting through the field on the downhill run to lead at the final flight and winning easily.
The winner partnered by Conor Orr is owned and trained by Maghera-based Gary McGill and having won over hurdles at Navan last November and highlighted her wellbeing with an excellent effort on the flat at the Galway Festival.
Gary McGill said: “She’s a tight, good, wee mare. We’ve always thought a lot of her. We gave her a run in Galway on the flat and she finished fourth and got badly hampered, so we thought we might as well come here today as she seems to like it around here.
“I couldn’t believe how she came down the hill and just took off. The gaps came at the right time for her and she got a nice run through. You could see her doing well maybe two or three weeks’ time.”
The Shane Nolan-trained Gotta Getaway with Eamon Corbett aboard provided a 16/1 shock victory. The locally trained Willyouwalkwithme (finished 5th) attempted to make all but the winner got a dream run up the inside to prevail. Corbett said: “She ran a cracker the last day and I just got chinned on the line and I was unlucky.
Today we just got a nice split up the inner and got there and kept going. We were confident enough coming here today, so it is great to get it done.”
Lighthouse Rose successfully made all with Philip Enright in the saddle in the mares’ handicap to continue Mark McNiff’s purple patch. Pat’s Pearl fell five from home bringing down Mrs Davies and Caerleon Kate but the winner denied favourite, Dime A Dozen by a wide margin.
Mark Mc Niff said: “If she had jumped the second last the last day she would have won and she jumped neither (it nor the last) – even if she had jumped one of them she would have won.
“She’s only a small mare and had no weight today. I’ll maybe run her over three miles at Sligo on Wednesday week.”
It Takes Time, trained by Kevin Smyth, fitted with first time cheek pieces supplied a bigger shock result when scoring at 40/1 providing jockey Conor Orr with a double. Dakota Beat attempted to make all but it was Golden Nomad and the winner which jumped the last in unison and the winner staying on best in the closing stages.
Conor Orr said: “Hopefully there will be another race or two in her. She has done that well today so hopefully at these types of tracks she might be competitive.”
The concluding Beginners Chase was won by the Gavin Cromwell-trained Ruinous which joined the front running The Abbey at the final fence – the penultimate fence having been bypassed to win going away with Jonathon Moore aboard.
Gavin Cromwell said: “He finds very little off the bridle, so Jonny rode a patient race and arrived there.”
The next race meeting at Downpatrick racecourse again is ‘Ladies Day’ will likely be held again behind closed doors but you can view it on Sky TV on At The Races live on Sunday 31st August – first race is at 2.15pm.