As the sun shone on Downpatrick racecourse making the running quite firm to hard for the horses, the hunterchase at Downpatrick on Friday night at 8.10pm produced havoc before any horses jumped a fence. The majority of runners fell, were brought down or hampered when a horse slipped up on the bend out of the straight approaching the first fence writes Joe Kavanagh.
The melee saw only four of the eleven runners left standing and loose horses were everywhere with favourite Eddie’s Miracle tailed of last of the quartet.
However, the favourite steadily improved to jump the penultimate fence with victory appearing assured only to fall leaving 20/1 Miss Blanche to score for Sligo trainer Mark Mc Niff and rider Richie Deegan. Trainer Mark McNiff said: “I thought the horse in the third (Ashjan – second) would win, and was hoping the lad in the first (Atlantic Breaker – third) would win. You can’t beat luck though!”
Doran’s River on his first start for trainer Gordon Elliott won the opening race, the Friday Nights Alright Maiden Hurdle. The winner owned by Tom Doran who owned the top class chaser, Doran’s Pride made steady significant progress on the downhill run with Keith Donoghue aboard. Favourite Atlantic Breaker had every chance finishing third. Jockey Keith Donoghue said: “It’s nice to come back and get a winner. We didn’t really know much about him – it was his first run for Gordon (Elliott). He did it very well.” The winning rider who had taken a break from riding added: “It has been a struggle. When I went out and my weight went up to 12-10 but I have it back around 11-7 now. I’m just going to do 11-7 as the lightest for a while and see what happens. There will be plenty of opportunities for Gordon in maiden hurdles and beginners’ chases.”
The handicap hurdle was run at a very fast pace. Ashjan looked another winner at the course for Sligo handler, Mark McNiff when joining Bective Cave at the last but Station Closed under a trade-mark Denis O’Regan ride pounced in the closing stages to give Gordon Elliott a double while only three lengths separated the first four home.
Ian Amond representing Gordon Elliott said: “We’ll keep her going now for the summer, obviously she has turned the corner. She stayed going well, the step up in trip and better ground helped. I suppose this time of year they can change when they get a bit of sun.”
Polymath attempted to make all in the Kilmore Rec and Corner Inn Bar Rated Novice Hurdle novice hurdle for five year olds but dropped out four from home. Foxearth and Prince Garyantle then went on with the first named trained by Henry De Bromhead readily asserting in the closing stages partnered by Andrew Lynch. The winning jockey said: “He stayed three miles well the last day and having ridden the other horse (Prince Garyantle) I was anxious to put a bit of pressure on him early and he galloped well.”
Lynch quickly doubled up when winning the Crossgar Pallas Foods Beginners Steeplechase chase on the Matthew Smyth trained Theturnofthesun. The race attracted a maximum field and Jack Slade was well supported into favourite only to pull up four from home.
The winner made ground to lead at the penultimate fence and went clear after the last. Jody Mc Garvey was seen to excellent advantage when landing the handicap chase on Kilclispeen for trainer, Christy Roche and owner JP Mc Manus.
Four jumped the last together and while Admiral Brian got to the front Mc Garvey rallied the winner which had always tracked the leaders to prevail at the line. Winning jockey Andrew Lynch said after the race: “Look it’s the lowest of the low. The second horse was way out of the handicap rated 60 or 70 or something. It just shows you the strength in depth to the race.”
Father and son Patrick and Willie Mullins again joined to claim the bumper racewith Iolani beating favourite Frankiefiveangels.
A stewards inquiry followed the 8.10pm A Very Special Hunters Steeplechase.
The Stewards received reports from seven riders in relation to the falls of their mounts at a turning point on the approach to the fence past the stands. Mr D. O’Connor, rider of Chosen Dream, reported that his mount was unable to avoid being brought down, Mr M.J. O’Hare, rider of Clondaw Frisby, reported that his mount lost his legs at a turning point and slipped up independently, Mr T. Reilly, rider of Broadmeadow Ridge, reported that his mount was brought down, Mr N. Gault, rider of Lisnagreggan, reported that his mount was brought down, Mr S. Clements, rider of Mullaghmurphy Blue, reported that his mount had avoided the fallers but slipped up independently having lost his hind legs, Mr E.P. O’Brien, rider of Strideout Euro, reported that he was in the lead when his mount lost his legs at a turning point and slipped up independently and Mr S.P. Kelly, rider of Howwouldsheknow, reported that his mount was brought down.
Having considered the reports and viewed the video recording of that part of the race, the Stewards were satisfied that the incident was accidental and took no action.