There was a feast of racing at Downpatrick race course this weekend celebrating the DownTime Festival.
At the Saturday race meeting, Crossgar trainer Colin Mc Bratney supplied a local victory when Shipwreck proved the runaway winner of the Coors Hurdle. He lead at the last and went clear with in-form claimer, Adam Short in the saddle writes Joe Kavanagh.
The winner of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Maiden Hurdle is owned by the Templeburn Syndicate and supported from 20/1 to 12/1. Mc Bratney said “That bit of rain last night and this morning helped her. She was off a low weight and hopefully she will go and win again. She’s entered for Perth next Saturday and she probably will go if she comes out of this okay.” Adam Short completed a double when scoring on Fairymount Boy in the handicap chase.
Maple Lawn landed the opener for trainer, Jessica Harrington and Paddy Kennedy ahead of the Kildare trainer’s team targeting Royal Ascot next week including Torcedor in the Gold Cup. Kennedy said “I’d imagine there might be a race for her in Galway – she handled Downpatrick so she’ll definitely handle Galway. That could be the summer plan for her.”
The locally trained, Hide The Biscuit was prominent for most of the race but faded after two out and a photo finish was needed to separate Shakey Try and Persian Wind at the line – the former prevailing by a nose for top trainer, Edward O’Grady and claiming rider, Steven Gray in the handicap hurdle. Gray said “I didn’t know to be honest (if I’d held on). I probably hit the front too soon but he stayed going in fairness to him. He’s a different horse on good ground.”
Navan trainer, Noel Meade won the beginners chase for the second successive year when Cote Tete partnered by Sean Flanagan lead at the last to prevail. Flanagan said “ He improved a lot for jumping a fence.” Gordon Elliott was again on the score board at the track when Cecil Corbett gained a repeat victory in the feature chase with Jack Kennedy in the saddle. The winner patiently ridden lead two from home and repelled a fleet of challengers.
Champion trainer, Willie Mullins gained compensation for defeat in the opener when Stay Humble with Katie O’Farrell aboard landed the bumper for lady riders.
Sunday started with a huge win for a Downpatrick syndicate earning an enormous roar from the stand as the well backed Hillary John romped home.
Brian Hamilton who trains beside the track claimed the opener at Downpatrick when Hillary John made all the running to score with Gavin Sheehan rewarded for the trip flying in especiallyfrom Britain for his memorable ride.
The winner owned by the Up The Hoops Syndicate had won a Fermanagh point-to-point two weeks ago and was backed from 20/1 to 8/1. Trainer Hamilton said: “He works quite well at home and won his point-to-point well. The boys bought him off Eddie Ahern off Facebook. We got him for a young lad in the yard to ride and school on, but the young fellow hasn’t got a licence yet so we ran him in a point-to-point.
“His jumping was a bit dodgy though, so we thought there was no point in running him back in a point-to-point. The reason Gavin (Sheehan) rode him is that the fellow that is the head of the syndicate, Paul Burns, works at Clive Cox’s in England and is born and bred in Downpatrick. Gavin is friendly with them over in Lambourn.” So it was definitely celebration time in Downpatrick!
Tyrone trainer, Andy Oliver doubled the score for local trainers when Touched By An Angel provided the based Caledon handler with a 1-2 in the Coors Hurdle with 25/1 shot Go Guarantor finishing runner up to his better fancied stable companion [25/1 to 10/1] with Andrew Lynch aboard the winner. Oliver said: “It went well and he loves that ground and loves the track. He’s a handy horse with a good attitude. Andrew (Lynch) knows him well and gave him a great ride and said we would just try and be positive and we rode him as we said we would. It worked out just perfectly.”
Victoria Bay led after Tin Town Liz ridden by Conor Maxwell slipped on landing at the hurdle after the straight and made the rest of the running to score easily. Jockey Sean Flanagan said: “When Conor (on Tin Town Liz) slipped on the bend, I was left there way too soon. She runs sounder on better ground. She’s a grand mare and has a really nice pedigree and will be a nice mare to jump a fence.”
Turbo and Ravenhill dominated the maiden hurdle from flag fall. Turbo had made all the running stalked by his rival only to throw the race away when screwing over the final flight allowing champion jockey Davy Russell to shoot up the inside and take advantage to win. Trainer Gordon Elliott said: “Those owners are from all over the North of Ireland so it’s great for them to get a winner. The other one (Turbo) probably made it a bit easier when he made a mistake (at the last) but in fairness Ravenhill wasn’t beaten.”
Elliott and Russell quickly doubled up when Count Simon carrying the Templepatrick -based Sloan Family colours was produced after the last to record a very easy win in the rated novice hurdle. Elliott said: “Davy’s lucky for me. He doesn’t do much wrong anyway! It’s great for the Sloans who are big supporters of the yard.” Elliott completed a hat trick at the fixture when Carrie Des Champs ridden by Lisa O’Neill who won the finale beating stable companion Melior.
Killiney Court partnered by Dylan Robinson made all to register a repeat course victory in the handicap hurdle with Waterford trainer, Henry De Bromhead also suppling the fourth placed King Of Brega. Robinson said: “He loved that just lobbing away out in front. He likes it here – he won here before. It’s nice to get his confidence back.”