Gordon Elliott claimed the first race, the Molson Coors Maiden Hurdle, with Batts Rock and Davy Russell aboard. The runner up Ificudiwud was always prominent but the winner was an eye catcher on the downhill run and the top jockey waiting until after the last before asserting writes Joe Kavanagh.
Trainer Elliott said: “He deserves to win, he has been knocking on the door a while. It’s great for Valerie and Noel (Moran) – they sponsor the yard and have a good few horses with us so it’s good for them to get a nice winner.”
Trainer Jessica Harrington having landed the first race at the Curragh registered a double in the second race at Downpatrick when Thegoaheadman partnered by Robbie Power claimed the handicap hurdle.
The Harrington runner having run fourth for most improved to lead at the penultimate flight, held the determined challenge of the locally trained Brian Hamilton horse Dynamic Allen on the run to the line. Power said: “We didn’t go very quick and I was anxious from the top of the hill that I wanted to get them on the stretch because he stays well, and he quickened up well down the hill. I knew he would stay well going up the hill.”
Jockey Daragh O’Keefe gave Manomine an enterprising ride to supply a local winner when making all in the Adare Manor Hurdle. Trained by Keith Watson at Armagh the winner always travelled well at the head of affairs to gain a repeat success at the venue. Watson said: “We knew he liked it around here and it is horses for courses especially around here. He was different class and he seems to be enjoying himself. Whatever Kate Kelly did in that Punchestown charity race, we have to thank her!”
Pat’s Pearl made a winning debut over fences in the Beginners Chase for trainer John McConnell and jockey Ryan Treacy. The winner ran third for most prior to improving three out and regaining the advantage at the final fence having been headed by Torquay. Treacy said: “She jumps well. We were lucky going out on the last circuit… she slipped on the bend. It would normally have knocked the confidence in any horse but it didn’t seem to affect her.”
And receiving a farewell gift from his friends at Downpatrick racecourse, Robert Rusk from Kildare, a jockeys’ valet for 38 years after working for Fox Valeting Services, is going out to grass on the 7th June. “Nuggie” is a popular face in the weigh room and will be greatly missed. Happy retirement Robert!
Canadian Steel proved a decisive winner of the handicap chase for Draperstown handler, Noel Kelly. Maureen’s Star attempted to make all but was readily overhauled with the winner partnered by Jodie Mc Garvey leading at the penultimate fence for a facile success. Kelly said: “He was just a bit unlucky the last day. He came here today and he had a run under his belt and we fancied him. He was in good enough form.”
Hi Murphy was fancied by the local punters with top Downpatrick amateur jockey Declan Lavery on board and was seen to good advantage when coming home to win the Frank Fitzimmons Memorial Hunters Steeplechase. The winner trained by Cabra-based Sean Mc Parlan was prominent for most of the race. But having rallied in resolute fashion after the last to score, he supplied the third local winner on the night. McParlan quipped: “He’s for sale if someone comes with a fat purse!”
Trainer Joseph O’Brien got on the scoreboard when Centaur with Tom Hamilton in the saddle outpointed Global Society in the Molson Coors flat race finale.
Crowd Enjoys the Frankie Fitzsimmons Memorial Hunter Steeplechase Chase at Downpatrick Racecourse.
Frank Fitzsimmons was born in 1916 on a small farm close to the centre of what is now Downpatrick racecourse and he went on to become a distinguished jockey. He became a very well known amateur jockey and trained horses for the point-to-point meetings at his stables.
In 1935 he rode his first winner in Downpatrick for Major Beamish who trained horses near Vianstown. Frank went on to enjoy an excellent record at Downpatrick having many winners and on race courses across Ireland and England. Bright Trick andChoice were two of his horse that were course specialists.
Today, Frank’s son’s Brian, Paddy and Frankie are considerably involved in horse racing and in point-to-point. They are very proud to have this race run in honour of their father, a local racing legend.
The next meeting at Downpatrick racecourse will be a double header two day racing festival weekend during the Downtime Downpatrick festival with the meeting to take place on Saturday and Sunday 15-16th June 2019.